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Blind Golf: Golfing for the Blind

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

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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:

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

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