On Monday, 18th August the final part of the RTE programme, This Is Me, was aired. The programme focused on Jimmy Murray, a blind golfer, who together with his wife Maureen runs the Irish Blind Golf Society. The programme Teeing is Believing tells the story of Jimmy and Maureen Murray and how living their lives in a blind Ireland has made them the people they are today.
Maureen was born with very limited vision. At the age of 11 she moved to Dublin and become a boarder at St. Mary’s School for the Blind. “This was a breath for fresh air, I could finally live my life as a blind person”. By Maureen’s mid-teens she was completely blind. Jimmy is originally from Kilkenny and is partially sighted. As a young boy he attended St. Joseph’s School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Drumcondra. The couple met at a dance in the Tara Towers and after a whirlwind romance the couple were married within a year and have lived in Greenhills, Dublin for over thirty years.
Jimmy and Maureen Murray have followed a philosophy throughout their life; if you do nothing, you get nothing. The couple have striven all their lives not to be defined by blindness. With the introduction of new technologies over the years, the couple have embraced them, willing to try anything. One of the most adventurous things Jimmy took up was golf and together they run the Irish Blind Golf Society. “I didn’t start playing golf until much later in life, but I was always interested in sports, particularly athletics. Even when I was in my 40s, I used to run at events organised by Irish Blind Sports”.
While filming for the This Is Me programme, the RTE cameras followed Jimmy around the course to show how a blind or vision impaired golfer plays the game. The only major difference in blind golf is that players are assisted by a sighted guide who provides the necessary information about the characteristics of each hole. After positioning the club for the shot, the golfer is then on their own. With the aid of such caddie-style guides, the golfer is thus enabled to play the course. As Jimmy explained, “the guides are the real heroes in the game. The guide is crucial: he lines them up, gives you the distance and the clubs to match and reads the situation for you. It’s down to me then to do the job. A blind golfer takes full responsibility for what happens with the shot. We never pass any blame on to the guide.”
Jimmy has just finished representing the Republic of Ireland in the World Blind Golf Championships, which took place at Belvoir Park Golf Club in Belfast from 10th to 12th August. More than fifty international competitors participated in the event, including Jenny McCallum from Australia and Simon Cookson from England. Jimmy achieved his goal of finishing in the top 20 at the event.
Following on from the World Championships, the couple are preparing for two tournaments in the coming months. The next outing is will take place in the Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan on Thursday 18th September and following this, in the Kilkenny Golf Club on Friday, 3rd October.
There are currently eight participating blind golfers in Ireland, but Jimmy is keen to increase these numbers. Jimmy’s mission now is to attract younger members into the Blind Golf Society who will keep it going. “Golf is for all ages so hopefully we’ll see more coming in over the next few years. Apart from that I have no other major ambitions left. I’m quite happy the way I am and always try to keep a positive outlook on life. I have no regrets, they are a waste of energy.”
For more information on Blind Golf, please contact Irish Blind Sports