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Blind Golf: Golfing for the Blind

  • Publish Date : 2015/03/07 - (Rev. 2018/09/25)
  • Author : Disabled World
  • Contact : www.disabled-world.com

Synopsis: Blind golf is an adapted version of the sport of golf created for blind and partially sighted players.

Main Document

What is Blind Golf?

While we think of golf as an activity requiring eyesight, that's not necessarily the case. The game is enjoyed by thousands throughout the world who have someone else be their eyes.

Blind golf is a version of the sport of golf adapted for blind and partially sighted players. The American Blind Golf organization was established in 2001 to promote the game of golf to blind and vision impaired persons. The earliest record of blind golf is from the 1920s in the USA when Clint Russell of Duluth, Minnesota, lost his sight when a tire exploded in his face. He began playing blind golf in 1925, gradually increasing his scores until Clint managed to shoot an 84 for 18 holes in the early 1930s.

The International Blind Golf Association oversees blind golf. The sport is not currently played at the Paralympics.

Blind golf includes only minor modifications to the standard rules of golf.

The principle of playing is that 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 that point, the golfer is on his own, and it is her/his skill that determines the resulting stroke.

The International Blind Golf Association (IBGA) was established in 1997 at a meeting held in Perth, Western Australia. Today there are currently nine member countries in the IBGA: Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the United States of America.

Man in red long-sleeved top and white pants playing golf - Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash.
Man in red long-sleeved top and white pants playing golf - Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash.

A match between two blind Englishmen and two Americans took place before the Second World War. Organized blind golf tournaments have taken place in America since the United States Blind Golf Association was established in 1947.

The first hole-in-one recorded by a blind or visually impaired golfer in a National Open was scored on September 15, 2004 by Jan Dinsdale, a B2 lady from Northern Ireland. It was on the 115 yard second hole at Shannon Lake Golf Club in Kelowna, British Columbia during the Canadian Open Tournament.

Other than the coach, there is only one relaxation to the standard rules: blind or partially sighted golfers are allowed to ground their club in a hazard.

Blind golf competitions are set in classes determined by the golfer's level of sight, using the same categories as in other branches of sport played by the visually impaired:

  • B1 - No light perception in either eye, or slight light perception but inability to recognize the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction
  • B2 - From ability to recognize the shape of a hand, up to visual acuity of 2/60, and/or visual field of less than 5 degrees
  • B3 - Visual acuity between 2/60 and 6/60, and/or visual field of between 5 degrees and 20 degrees.

Blind Golf Tournaments

The IBGA conducts a world championship every two years. The 2004 world championship tournament was held in Australia.

Other tournaments sanctioned by the IBGA include National Open events in Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Japan and the USA.

Blind Golf Organizations

  • International Blind Golf Association:

    The International Blind Golf Association is the governing and sanctioning body of blind golf events world wide. The IBGA is dedicated to promoting the sport, and assisting blind golfers enjoy golf.

  • English Blind Golf Association:

    The main purpose of the EBGA is to provide visually handicapped people with the facility to train and compete in the game of golf. Training is provided by giving new members support to receive lessons from professional golfers. In addition each year the organization invites all members to attend a training weekend at which PGA professionals teach the various aspects of the game. Assistance is also given to schools for the blind where pupils want to start to play golf.

  • The Canadian Blind Golf Association:

    Established in 1951. However, it has not been a functioning association since the mid 1980s. The Western Division and Ontario Visually Impaired Golf Association continued to operate independently and are currently making efforts to restructure the Canadian Association. The Canadian Association uses the same standards as the International Blind Sports Federation, with one exception: level of sight classification is based on acuity only, and not field of vision. The rationale is that golf is a dead ball sport and a player with "tunnel vision" can see the ball clearly when striking it.

  • Buddie's Buddies:

    A non-profit 501-(c)(3) charitable organization whose purpose is to enhance the personal and physical growth of our participants with disabilities. Our clinics are FREE OF CHARGE to all who attend. We're a USGA Supported Program. New clinics and playing opportunities are being added to our schedule, as people of all (6 - 86) with disabilities, discover that playing golf is not out of bounds. For further information please visit www.buddiesbuddies.org

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