Welcome to Blind Golf
You don’t have to see it to tee it!
“We can still play”
“How do they do that?” and “That’s amazing.” These are the reactions of most people the first time they are exposed to the world of blind golf. But what is blind golf and how does it work?
Players are divided into three categories depending on their level of sight impairment: B1, B2 and B3.
B1 players are totally blind. If you were to wave your hand in front of the face of a B1 player they would be unaware of your hand.
B2 players have some sight, ranging from 20/600 to totally blind. In the instance described above, a B2 player would be aware of your hand but would be unable to tell the number of fingers you were holding up.
B3 players have some sight, ranging from 20/200 to 20/600. All players, B1, B2 and B3 are classed as legally blind. B3 players often have no central vision but have varying levels of peripheral vision, ranging up to several metres.
Blind golfers have handicaps just like sighted players and compete against one another in both gross (total strokes, not using handicaps) and nett events (includes handicaps). There are some modifications to the Rules of Golf to accommodate blind golfers. e.g. clubs can be grounded in bunkers.
Those familiar with regular tournament golf will be familiar with the role of a caddie. The role of the blind golfer ‘guide’ or ‘coach’ is far more than that of a conventional caddie. Blind golf is very much a team sport. Guides generally align players, often place club heads directly behind the golf ball and follow the flight of the ball – hopefully straight down the fairway. The guide also ensures the player’s safety when moving about the golf course.
In 1998 the International Blind Golf Association (IBGA) was formed to govern, sanction and provide funding for international blind golf events. The sport is indebted to the substantial funding provided by Japanese business man Dr. Haruhisa Handa. Dr. Handa had been inspired when playing golf with a blind golfer in Australia (Ron Anderson).
Currently in the 14 member national associations there are over 500 registered blind golfers worldwide. In addition, there are individual associate members from a further 3 countries.
Let blind golfers open your eyes to the possible!