Paul O’Rahilly of Irish Blind Golf writes.
The Irish Blind Golf Society was formed in 1991. This year we celebrate our 25th anniversary. In fact, our founder member, the esteemed and affable Jimmy Murray, was recently inaugurated into the Vision Sports Ireland Hall of Fame, by VSI Chairman Joe Geraghty.
Irish Blind Golf is supported and endorsed by Vision Sports Ireland and the Golfing Union of Ireland. From January 2017, we will be changing our name to Irish Blind Golf. This reflects our intention to be the representative body, to the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) for blind and visually impaired golfers in Ireland.
ISPS Handa World Blind Golf Championships 2016
The 2016 World Blind Golf Championships took place on November 8th and 9th, in the Shinrin-Koen golf club, in the Saitama prefecture, Japan. The tournament is patronised by Dr. Handa, and is administered jointly between the International Blind Golf Association and Dr. Handa’s sports promotion company, ISPS. The Worlds’ is a 36 hole stroke play tournament played over two days. There were 54 competitors and Ireland was represented by four players: Paul O’Rahilly and Ed Maguire in the B2 sight category, and Willem Roode and Patrick Morgan in the B3 sight category.
After the first 18, Patrick Morgan was lying third with a nett 66. Patrick is our leading player, with a golf handicap of 25. He has been runner up in both the U.S. and British Blind Golf Opens this year. In Japan, he shot nett 73 on the second day, finishing a creditable 7th overall. Ed and Willem finished 9th. and 14th., respectively. Paul started well on the first day with a nett 75 but slipped down the field with a poor second round score. The overall winner of the nett competition was Toshio Karasawa from Japan, with Paul Appleyard (England and Wales), Jeremy Poinsonot (United States), and Zohar Sharon (Israel) winning the B3, B2, and B1 sight categories with outstanding gross scores. The winner of the ladies nett competition was Linda Port from the United States.
In his monthly captains’ blog published on the Irish Blind Golf website, Ed Maguire reflected: “I believe it is true to say that Japan made a lasting impression on all of us. It’s people bring new meaning to the words kindness, humility, helpfulness, graciousness, pride of place. They are a proud people and they have so much to be proud about”.
Irish Blind Golf is looking for guides
Golf for blind and visually impaired people is essentially a two-person sport. The guide plays a very important role in interpreting the shot to be played, setting up the player and describing the outcome. All the player has to do is hit the ball! Irish Blind Golf has a limited number of guides who help out. Most of our guides have some golfing experience.
We are always looking for volunteer guides to help out with our training days, or on the golf course. Some of our players work exclusively with one guide. Others just work with whoever is available So, if you are interested in becoming a guide, you can register your interest on our website.
Nationwide call for players
We are also looking for new players, particularly young players we can develop. The majority of our 16 members live in Dublin. Most of our monthly outings take place in Dublin. Throughout the year, we play golf 8 or 9 times. We have one member from Clare, one from Tipperary, and one from Kilkenny.
We want to broaden the member base to include all provinces and counties in Ireland, and have more outings away from Dublin.
We are looking for golfers of all abilities, ladies and gents, young and old. We will provide the training and playing opportunities to help you become the best golfer you can be. We don’t provide equipment or transportation, and would prefer if you organise your own guide to start with.
Next year’s tournaments
2017 will be a busy year for Irish Blind Golf. We are organising an international tournament in Nuremore Golf Club, Co. Monaghan in late June. The ISPS Handa Irish Blind Golf Open Championship will be a 36 hole strokeplay event, and is open to IBGA registered players with a golf handicap.
The annual Ireland v Scotland Celtic Cup match will take place in May in a Midlands golf course. Six players from each country will play a Ryder Cup style format over two days, 18 holes foursomes and 18 holes singles matchplay. So, if you want to get started playing blind golf? Go to our website, to register your interest. Winter 2016 is the best time to get training, and be ready for the 2017 season.
For further information about blind golf visit: www.irishblindgolf.eu or
Irish Blind Golfer’s Profiles
Ed Maguire, Golf captain of Irish Blind Golf and Team Ireland. He won the Italian Open (B2) in 2014 and 2015 and the Austrian Open 2016. He was the Order of Merit Champion, Ireland, 2014 and is currently 2nd. in Irish Order of Merit race. Hobbies, Golf, music, walking, travel, grandchildren. Best Decision? “Joining the Blind Golf World, lovely people, friends for life!”
Paul O’Rahilly was secretary of IBGS between 2009 and 2014, and organised the ISPS Handa Irish Blind Golf Open in 2014. Paul has participated in several IBGA tournaments since 2009, including the 2012 World Championships in Canada. He won the 1999 British masters, and the 1999 Irish Open, as well as runner up in the 2011 Italian Open. He has represented Team Ireland in the Celtic Cup, an annual golf match between the blind golfers of Ireland and Scotland on six occasions.
Willem Roode, (Wally) is a physiotherapist. He has played blind golf for many years and found it “a new lease of life”. He has participated internationally in three world championships.
Patrick Morgan loves all sports and plays soccer and basketball as well as golf. He is the youngest Irish Blind Golfer. Patrick represented Ireland against Scotland in the Celtic Cup team in 2015 and 2016. He won the best net score in the 2016 Italian Open, and is leading the Irish Blind Golf Order of Merit. He has met many interesting people through golf.