Blind golf challenges and inspires

Sports fans love an underdog. The ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds has been a source of admiration since David took on Goliath.

After watching professional golfers at the US Open and Traveler’s Championship, some would say just playing the game of golf is sufficiently challenging. Most impressive is when the game is played by athletes who are legally blind.

Blind golf traces its roots in the United States to 1925 when Clint Russell began playing after losing his sight in an accident. The United States Blind Golf Association was established in 1947 and has since been sponsoring organized tournaments.

Interestingly, there is little variation from the traditional rules of golf. Blind golfers work with a coach who is responsible for aligning the club and giving information on distance and direction. The only other significant variation is the ability to ground the club in a hazard before making a shot.

A blind golfer’s coach is more than a caddy as their relationship involves a high level of trust.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind sponsors the Corcoran Cup Masters Invitational golf tournament at the Mt. Kisco Country Club in New York. The field consists of the top 16 blind golfers in the country.

“Sponsoring this tournament over the past 30 years has become a fundamental part of our mission to allow blind and visually impaired people to compete on an equal playing field,” said Michelle Brier, marketing manager at Guiding Eyes. The day following the tournament, blind golfers play in foursomes with sighted golfers as part of a fundraising event.

Golf requires athletic ability and skill. One of the fringe benefits for all golfers is the camaraderie of sharing the experience with others.

Although golf has a significant “visual” component, success is measured by the “sound” of the ball hitting the bottom of the cup.

No comments: