By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

The Recreation Adapted (RAD) Society’s new paragolfer machine is now permanently here in the Columbia Valley, and is set this summer to become one of very few such devices available for the public to rent.

The Pioneer has previously reported on the RAD Society’s success in bringing the world’s first public rental adaptive cross country ski sledge to the Columbia Valley this past winter, which proved a smash hit with local residents and visitors alike. But RAD Society founder Tanelle Bolt never planned to stop at just one adaptive recreation device and has been hard at work for months to bring a paragolfer for rent here too.

The paragolfer initially arrived in the Columbia Valley in the fall, after the golf season was over. The RAD Society lent it out over the winter to Heritage Point Golf Club in Calgary, where it was used at the club’s indoor golf simulators.

Two or three weeks ago it came back to the valley, where it will be kept at Copper Point Golf Club on behalf of the RAD Society, and where it can be rented out for use at Copper Point, or at any other golf courses in the Columbia Valley.

“We are thrilled to have it here, available for the whole valley to use,” said Bolt.

Last week Bolt and Copper Point head golf professional Scott McLain headed out on the course, giving the paragolfer its first trial run in the valley. The result?

“It was pretty cool. I can stand up and golf almost like I used to. My slice is even gone,” said Bolt who sustained a severe spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair. “It fits in the clubhouse too, which is great. After golfing, we went to the clubhouse and I was able to stand up (using the paragolfer). It was the first time I’ve been able to stand up while having a social drink in seven year, since my accident.”

Bolt emphasized that although the paragolfer is hosted at Copper Point Golf Club, McClain can take it to any golf course in the valley. She also outlined that the paragolfer “can be used for so much more than golf.”

It could, for instance, be used at Rod and Gun Club events for an adaptive user wanting to participate in shooting or archery. It can be used simply to go for a walk. 

“If you can’t ambulate well, it can be used to help you with all sorts of activities. It’s helpful for many stretching and fitness exercises,” said Bolt. “And, as I mentioned, it can also be used in social settings in which you want to be upright. A wedding, for instance, or a conference at the Columbia Valley Centre.”

Bolt explained that the paragolfer is not just for wheelchair users, but for anybody who faces mobility issues. One user of the machine is a 39-year old former soldier who had a tumour in his hip and now can’t support himself to stand up. Another is an 88-year old man with balance troubles (“when his wife and son watched him use it golf, they were crying,” said Bolt). 

People with Multiple Sclerosis may find the paragolfer useful, added Bolt. “If you think this might be useful for you, don’t be scared to come and try something new,” she said. “It’s amazing how much recreation you actually can do, with a machine like this.”

McClain added that he can even bring the paragolfer to courses in Cranbrook and Golden.

“If somebody wants to use it, we want it to be known that it’s here to use,” said McClain.

He explained that although they haven’t figured out the exact rental rate yet, “it’s going to be pretty inexpensive to use. We want to keep the cost down as much as we can, so that as many people can use it as possible.” McClain explained that the paragolfer has adaptations that allow it to be used by large adults and small kids alike.

The paragolfer comes with a price tag of $42,000, and the majority of the funding courtesy of the Windermere Oilmen group, with a bit extra raised during RAD’s third Ugly Pant Classic charity golf tournament. Bolt extended a thanks to the Oilmen and to those who participated in the charity tournament.

To learn more about the paragolfer, call McClain at 250 341 3392 ex. 1 or email Copper Point Golf general manager Brian Schaal at [email protected].