Cian Arthurs is hopeful that the first ever Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability will open the floodgates for many more events across the country in the coming years.
The Dubliner, who’s teed up on the European Disabled Golf Association [EDGA] Tour for a number of years, believes it’s taken far too long for the event to launch on Irish shores but expects further Disability golf tournaments to emerge off the back of its success.
“We’ve been screaming out for something like this in Ireland for a number of years now,” says Arthurs ahead of the two-day tournament at Roganstown Hotel & Country Club.
“Given the level of golfer that we have here, it seems crazy that we haven’t had something already but it’s brilliant now to finally have one.
“This year will be a learning curve for Golf Ireland but once we get the first one up and running, we’d hope to push forward and have a few more across Ireland in the next couple of years.
“A lot of the other countries have four, five, even six events. Some are close championships for their own players and there’s no reason why we can’t do that here down the line too with the talent in this country.”
Indeed, Ireland’s talent pool is deeper than most. The island is home to the World Number One disability golfer, Brendan Lawlor and the Carton House star formed part of a four-man select that romped to a 25-shot success at the European Team Championships for Golfers with a Disability in June.
Arthurs had pinned his hopes on selection to the team but an untimely tendon injury in his forearm has seen him struggle for form this term, and although he tried out at pre-tournament trials, he accepts that the selectors ultimately got it right in the end.
“I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get on it because I put a lot into it but I injured myself in France, battled through it, played the second trial and didn’t do myself any justice,” he says.
“There were lads behind me in the rankings who got picked but when you look at the team and you look at how much they won by, it was the right decision.
“In saying that, you could’ve picked me, or even the worst golfer in Ireland to go with three of those lads and still breezed it,” he jokes.
“But I’m a proud Irishman and I was absolutely delighted for the lads.”
Arthurs golfing journey is one in a number of remarkable story set to be told at Roganstown this summer. He lost his right arm in a lawnmower accident when he was just two years old but has never allowed his disability to stand in his way.
Splitting his time between the fairways and a full-time job at McGuirks, the 29-year old has been working hard both on and off the golf course as he looks to rediscover his form in time for a title tilt at Roganstown.
He knows such aspirations won’t be easily fulfilled. Since Lawlor burst on the scene in the name of disability golf, competition has increased ten-fold as players continue to come out of the woodwork for their own crack at the limelight.
“It’s definitely getting tougher out there,” Arthurs admits. “Alan Gaynor is a really good golfer who’s played a couple of West of Ireland’s but he just popped up for the trials having not really played any EDGA events and he’ll be involved in the set-up for a long time to come.
“It’s great to get these guys teeing up though. You want the best players involved. There are lads playing off scratch that I haven’t even heard of entered into the Irish Open so the competition is only getting deeper.
“It’s looking likely that we might have a paid circuit for disabled golfers in the coming years so when players get wind of that, they’ll surely want to be involved. To get a few bucks for something you love doing is an enticing way to do it.”
Competition is good in any field and as new rivals emerge from the shadows to lay claim to EDGA crowns, the quality of golf on show only increases. That means Arthurs will have to be at his best, even on his home track, to lay down a challenge but whatever about his own game, he’s convinced that anyone making the trip to Roganstown to watch some golf will be treated to an eye-opening spectacle capable of changing their perspective on the game forever.
“The more the merrier – you want to grow the sport and fro people to recognise it,” Arthurs says, who hopes to run a clinic alongside the event for a school for disabled kids in the area.
“The standard is going to be very good. Roganstown’s my home course and I’ve broken par there. Last year I went 15 rounds in a row where I never shot more than 75 around it so I’m trying to hit that form again – it’s coming!
“But that’s just me and there’s better guys there than me. There’s no doubt that we’ll have some good scoring, but more than that, some of the guys who shoot higher, to be able to watch these guys play with the disabilities they have…
“Yeah, they might not have the length but when they get around the greens, watching them get up and down from anywhere and their shot-making, it’s an eye-opener for anyone.
“I swing with one hand but I’m still in awe of some of the guys playing and what they can do with what they have. I’d recommend people come down and witness it. We’re going to put on a show.”
The Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability is another milestone in a journey of many with the ultimate goal still to see golf secure its place in the Paralympic Games.
“The dream for any athlete really is to represent their country at an Olympic Games, nothing comes bigger than that,” Arthurs says.
“We’re pushing and pushing but it’s up to the organisations now to decide how they want it to work. As golfers, we’re doing all we can to promote it and trying to get us into that elusive Paralympic Games. With golf already in the Olympics, you’d hope it wouldn’t be long coming.”
Exposure like these golfers are about to get in Roganstown can only help them get there.