Golfer sues council run course for discrimination
A golfer with a prosthetic leg is suing Brentwood council for discrimination after refusing to let him play on its golf course using a buggy.
Paul Houghton had his right leg amputated in 2000 after contracting a deadly flesh-eating virus whilst working as a roofer. He now requires the use of crutches and a wheelchair after having to learn to walk again.
Mr. Houghton has represented England at disability golf 13 times and has played on courses across Europe. Because of his disability, he needs a buggy in order to play an 18-hole course.
In August 2016, Mr. Houghton had booked to play a round with a friend at Hartswood Golf Course in Essex.
On his way to the first tee, he claims he was told he would not be allowed on to the course without a letter from his doctor justifying the medical need for a buggy.
If he could produce the letter he would then be given a certificate allowing him to use his buggy.
Mr. Houghton says he explained that he had his own insurance, a European Disabled Golf Association card, and a medical exemption, but the club insisted that he needed a letter from a doctor to justify the use of a buggy.
He said: “It sends the message that disabled people aren’t welcome, that we are not part of society, not included, but are segregated and can’t join in a sport that’s accessible to everybody because we need to use other equipment to play the game.”
In his legal claim, Mr. Houghton argues that by refusing to allow him to use a buggy without a doctor’s letter, the council discriminated against him because of his inability to walk around the golf course.
He claims the council is effectively applying a policy that indirectly discriminates against all disabled people who need a buggy to play golf.
Brentwood Council denies any discrimination and is defending the legal action.