The Establishment of WDGF
Prior to the establishment of the World Deaf Golf Federation, the founding members: Robert Cundy of Canada, Jonathan Rose of Canada, Jim Hynes of United States, Tim Clark of United States, Tony Klimek of Australia, Howard Elson of Australia, Alan Brown of Scotland, and Kevin Whalley of England met in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA on 13 July 1994. This pivotal meeting was arranged after Kevin Whalley spent eight years searching for and contacting deaf golf organisations and had the desire to have the 1st World Deaf Golf Championship. At the conclusion of the founders meeting, the attendees agreed to form the WDGF and the 1st WDGC would be held in England in 1995.
The organisation was officially formed 8 August 1995. The first officers of WDGF were Tony Klimek of Australia, President; Jim Hynes of USA, Vice-President; Kevin Whalley of England, Treasurer/Secretary; Steve Earle of England, Director; Robert Cundy of Canada, Director; and Arne Lindquist of Sweden, Director.
During Mr. Whalley’s research, he discovered that there were several existing deaf golf associations that were established as far back as 1976. The visit to New Zealand and meeting deaf golfers had piqued the interest of Mr. Whalley in finding other deaf golf associations. Along the way, he found English Deaf Golf Association (1983), Scottish Deaf Golf Association (1986), Australian Deaf Golf Association (1969), New Zealand Deaf Golf Association (1970s) and South African Deaf Golf Association (1980s). Also, National Deaf Golf Association (1979) and Swedish Deaf Golf Association (1989) came in contact with Mr. Whalley. Canada and Ireland did not have an organisation until 1997 and 1995 respectively.
The First World Deaf Golf Championship
The 1st WDGC was held at Forest of Arden Country Club Resort in Meriden, Warwickshire, England. Fifty-eight golfers from eight countries met for the first time and participated in the event. The eight countries were Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States. The first Team Champion was United States and the individual Champion was Doren Granberry of USA.
Since the establishment in 1994, the WDGC had grown into three championships from a singular championship. At the Sun City Golf Resort in South Africa in October 2000, three women participated in the demonstration event. Susan Zupnik of USA, Marilyn Beernink of Canada, and Annette Verskin of South Africa were the first lady participants. Eventually, the Ladies’ championship was added at the 2002 WDGC in Ireland. The first Ladies champion was Patty Sue Polysa of USA. At the same event, the Senior Men’s (Veterans) was demonstrated and 8 Senior golfers participated. At the 2004 WDGC, the 3rd championship was added and the first Senior Men’s champion was of Jun Oishi of Japan.
As of 2006, the WDGF had flourished for eleven years and through six events. Under the Presidency of Tony Heyns, he saw the WDGC grow from one division into three divisions, which is now Men’s, Ladies’, and Senior Men’s championships.
At the 2012 WDGC, the Senior Men’s Championship is hosting the team competition for the first time in the history of WDGF. The number of entrants for Men and Senior Men was adjusted to accommodate this new event as approved at the 2010 WDGF General Meeting.
The WDGF logo was created by the first board.
The logo resembles a golf club – the purpose of the organization is to bring all the nations together for sportsmanship and friendship of deaf golf. The club face symbolizes global collaboration and competition by member nations on the golf course (represented by bunkers). The upper part is the grip of the golf club.
The flag was first introduced in 2004 at the site of Skytteholm Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. WDGF President Tony Heyns of South Africa (right) and Arne Lindquist of Sweden, 2004 WDGC Chair, presented the flag.