The first golf club I ever held was at the age of 8. It seemed like an impossible task to ever be able to hit the ball as high and as far as all the older guys. Equipped with a sawn off 8 iron and a pink grip, my obsession began for chasing this tiny white ball around some of the most scenic places around the world.
Years down the line once I had begun to hit the ball a little higher and a little further, my mind turned to those who weren't able to experience the same visual sensation that we now take for granted. My experiences with golf have always involved close friends and family, golf is one of the few sports that allows people of completely different abilities to be able to enjoy 4/5 hours together catching up and taking in the beauty that is synonymous with most courses. My love for golf continues to grow, albeit frustrating at times, it affords everyone the opportunity to get away from the stresses of everyday life and catch up with close friends and family in a beautiful place.
Image: Two sighted golfers helping to line up a visually impaired player's put.
Blind golf is outstanding in the area of disabled sports in that it includes only minor modifications to the standard rules of golf. Blind or partially sighted golf players have a sighted coach who assists the golfer in describing distance, direction and characteristics of the hole, and helps with club head alignment behind the ball, prior to the stroke. From then on, the golfer is on his own, and it is her/his skill that determines the resulting stroke. Another change to the rules is that blind or partially sighted golfers are allowed to ground their club in a hazard.
The sport of blind golf is governed by the International Blind Golf Association. Currently in the 15 member national associations there are about 400 registered blind golfers. The IBGA would like to see these numbers grow and is also involved in a bid to introduce disabled or paragolf into the Paralympics in the future.
Prior to doing this write up, I had never really thought about golf for the blind. It dawned on me what an amazing initiative it is to get this going. Despite people not being able to take everything in visually, I loved the idea that with no sight, people around the world have the ability to experience the same thrill that I have been able to over the past 18 years. I will be sure to continue following this brave and exciting form of the game and hopefully one day I will be able to help a visually impaired golfer out.
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