Australia will be represented by a team of eight players hoping for a “blinder” when competing at the forthcoming IBGA HANDA World Blind Golf Championship and Italian Open in Rome 1-5 October 2018. World Blind Golf Championships are held every two years in one of the 14 member countries where blind golf is played.
The two events will be each 36 holes of Stroke play with each golfer partnered with a sighted Caddy who assists with direction, ball spotting, lining up the club and distance estimates.
The Australian team of two ladies and six men are regular competitors in Blind Golf competitions, with several having won previous national and international titles.
The Australian Blind Golf team for 2018:
- Graham Coulton (British Blind Golf Open Champion, 2010) with Caddy Sue Carpenter – NSW
- Gary Sargent with Caddy Eileen Sargent – NSW
- Stephen Mitchell with caddy Kerri Mitchell – NSW
- Mark Eschbank with Caddy Peter North – NSW
- Michele Watts (Australian Open Champion 2017) with Caddies Michelle Bloxham and Jan Freed – NSW
- Brad Carver with Caddy tbc – QLD
- Glen Niciejewski with Caddy tbc – QLD
- Jenny McCallum (Ladies World Champion, Japan 2006) with Caddy Ian McCallum – WA
The Championships will be played at the Parco de Medici golf Course, just outside Rome, Italy. Over 60 players from 14 member countries will compete with their Caddies over the four days.
Vision impaired golfers compete in three divisions according to their level of vision (B1-B3). The Caddy acts as the player’s “eyes”.
Blind golf is a sport available to young and older vision impaired Australians because it is made possible by the partnership with a sighted Caddy. Caddies are often friends or relatives of the players who enjoy assisting the golfer, and there is a network of volunteer Caddies familiar with the game of golf who are able to give time to blind golfers and the sport they love.
“It is a game that is very manageable for vision impaired people. The ball is stationary and the shots can be lined up and spotted with the help of a Caddy,” says Graham Coulton, Secretary of Blind Golf NSW and a long time blind golfer.
“As a club golfer before losing my sight, I have really enjoyed being able to continue playing and being challenged by the sport I love. It is particularly special and loads of fun playing as a team with my Caddy,” said Michele Watts from Sydney. Michele began playing blind golf in 2017 and won her first Australian Open title at Royal Sydney Golf Club in October 2017.
Dr Handa, a Japanese businessman, has been supporting international blind golf for over 30 years, since he witnessed a tournament being played in Perth. Through ISPC (International Sports Promotion Society) Dr Handa contributes to the IBGA with over $100,000 US each year.
For further information:
Graham Coulton, Secretary Blind Golf NSW, Committee Member IBGA 0412 992 418
Michele Watts 0414 466 404
Blind Golf Australia www.blindgolf.com.au