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The Irish Blind Golf Society (I.B.G.S.) provides training, development and playing opportunities for vision impaired golfers. When golf is played by a fully sighted person, they don’t have to think twice about teeing the ball up, lining up the shot, observing the flight of the ball after it has been struck, and finding where it has landed.
Golfers with severe visual impairments, may have little or no difficulty actually hitting the ball, but what then!. What’s the correct direction? How far is the hole? Where has the ball finished?
Blind golf is a two person sport. Firstly there’s the player who has the technique to play the stroke, then there’s the guide. That’s the second person, the one who takes care of lining the player up, knowing when it is safe to hit, calculating yardage, reading putts, and making decisions around course management.
In 2010, IBGS worked in association with County Cork Local Sports Partnership to organise clinics once a month for blind and visually impaired people interested in playing golf. The clinics took place in East Cork G.C., FOTA Academy and in Douglas pitch and putt course. The clinics will continue in 2011, and will include professional tuition by P.G.A. qualified teaching pros.
The clinics are fun events, set up for new and experienced golfers of all ages who have a visual impairment.
About 30% of the people who attend our clinics wish to learn more about how to play golf. There is a transition phase between the clinics and playing on an 18 hole golf course. This needs to be met by providing one to one tuition, between a trainee golfer and a qualified PGA golf teacher. In 2011, we will provide financial support for golf lessons, to a limited number of golfers suffering from sight loss.
I.B.G.S is an associate member of the Golfing Union of Ireland, a full member of the International Blind Golf Association. For further details click on www.internationalblindgolf.org.
Our members regularly participate in I.B.G.A events. We have representatives at the annual British Blind Golf Open, the biennial World Championships, and several other international events.
Team Ireland is a golf team made up of members of Northern Ireland Blind Golf Association and from I.B.G.S. We play an annual challenge match, called the Celtic Cup agains the blind golfers of Scotland.
Blind golf is currently not a paralympic sport. The I.B.G.A. are working with the P.G.A. Seniors Tour to develop golf for disabled people, and blind golf in particular. It is hoped that blind golf will be played in the 2020 Paralympics at the latest.
IBGS Secretary, Paul O’Rahilly
Irish Blind Golf Society
Vision Sports Ireland
1 Christchurch Hall,
Tel: 085 8500193