One-legged golfer suing council after being told to provide doctor's letter to prove missing limb
Paul Houghton told he needed a doctor's letter to prove he had a limb missing if he wanted to use his buggy
A one-legged golfer is suing a council for refusing to let him play on one of its courses.
Paul Houghton was told he would need a doctor's letter proving he had a limb missing if he wanted to use a buggy to get round Hartswood Golf Course, in Essex.
The 60-year-old, who had his right leg amputated after contracting a lethal flesh-eating bug, has represented England at the disabled sport and played across the world.
But when he attempted to have a swing round his local facility - owned by Brentwood Council - he claims he was refused permission because of the buggy.
"Humiliating is the only way I can describe it,” the 60-year-old told The Independent.
“Humiliating, frustrating, and disappointing that, in 2016, this can still be happening. I’ve played on more than 100 courses around England and the world, and most are brilliant. But this shouldn’t be allowed to happen anywhere.”
Mr Houghton, previously a roofer, used golf as part of his rehabilitation when he lost his leg after kneeling in contaminated water in 2000.
He has since learned to walk with a prosthetic limb, and generally switches between it and crutches.
But, because overuse of either can result in injuries, he uses a buggy to travel the long distances required by 18 holes.
When he attempted to use the vehicle at Hartswood in August 2016, he was told he would not be allowed on to the course without a letter from his doctor justifying the need for the wheels.
Mr Houghton – who now works as an access officer in building control – showed his European Disabled Golf Association card and medical exemption, but the course said only a doctor’s letter would suffice.
He said: “I’m stood there with my prosthetic leg and they’re saying I need this letter – it’s discrimination because the message it sends is that disabled people are not welcome and they can’t join in at sport here.”
In his legal claim, he argues that by refusing to allow him to use a buggy, the council discriminated against him because of his inability to walk around the course. Such a policy, he contends, explicitly excludes disabled people from enjoying the facility.
A spokesperson for Brentwood Council said it was "committed to ensuring safe access for everyone".
They said the authority would issue a full statement when legal action had concluded.