Blind golf charity calls for more guides and sponsors

Stephen Killick
By Stephen Killick September 1, 2017 12:49

A registered charity is calling on more people to help blind golfers – especially by volunteering to be their guides – and for sponsors of major events.

England and Wales Blind Golf (EWBG), which is run by volunteers, helps registered blind golfers continue to enjoy the game. It is entirely dependent on donations and sponsorship, which covers the costs of volunteer guides, who are described as the golfers’ ‘eyes on the course’.

Andy Gilford, director of EWBG, said: “It really is a great charity and has changed so many people’s lives, getting them out.

“But we need help from the public and more guides.

“We are also looking for companies to sponsor events and the England team.”

EWGB director Andy Gilford with wife Mel

In the association there are three categories of golfers, ranging from B1 for the totally blind to B3, the least severe of visual impairment levels. And whilst some visually impaired players get to know the layout of their home courses they all need guides to assist them in competitions and when playing at new courses.

The shortage of those knowledgeable golfers willing to spare the time to help guide players has sadly resulted in a number having to withdraw from some of the six tournaments that have been organised during 2017 especially those that are played over two days or more.

Quite often blind golfers are able to persuade members of their family to help out but it is not always possible, especially if they are working or are non-golfers.

A guide has to build up a relationship with his or her player giving them as much information as they require. This may involve lining the player up on the tee, pacing out distances on the green and explaining the line and strength of the shot.

One of the patrons of EWBG, broadcaster John Inverdale, says, ‘ I can honestly say that playing 18 holes with a blind golfer is one of the most stimulating and life-affirming experiences that you can have as a sportsman.’

Many of those who have guided golfers in tournaments say the same thing. The standard of play is often exceptional and many casual observers would be hard pressed to tell that the players were blind at all.

The only modification in the rules of the game laid down by the Royal & Ancient committee is that players are allowed to ground their clubs in hazards without penalty.

One of the highlights for members of the association is to be selected for the annual Auld Enemies Cup competition against their Scottish counterparts when the top nine in the order of merit are chosen with three wild card picks by the captain in Ryder Cup style. This year’s match is being held at Kinross starting September 18th.

The 2016 EWBG team

As well as National there are also International open competitions with over 20 countries having become part of the family of International blind golf.

Every two years members of EWBG compete for places in the ISPS Handa International Blind Golf Association world championship where two EWBG members from each sight category will compete in a medal contest over 36-holes. Next year’s event will be held at the prestigious Parco de’ Medici club in Rome with previous championships contested in Japan and Australia.

What all the events require are willing sponsors and most recently, as is the case in many fields of competitive golf, they have been increasingly harder to find against the economic uncertainty brought about by recession and more recently Brexit, especially in England and Wales.

Virgin used to provide complimentary rail tickets to players and their guides for the Auld Enemies Cup, but has changed its charity whilst half the contribution for the annual EWBG Masters tournament has also been withdrawn this year, which leaves only three years before full funding could be withdrawn completely.

BBC radio commentator, Iain Carter, said: “When I play with a blind golfer I feel I am in the company of someone with a rare talent. They should be supported in every way possible.”

The association is constantly looking for guides and sponsors, but this year needs help more than ever. It is appealing to all golf clubs throughout England and Wales to consider ways in which they could help and there are a number of them.

Club captains can provide financial assistance by choosing EWBG as their designated charity of the year whilst club secretaries or managers can offer courtesy of the course or discounted rates to stage an EWBG event.

Similarly individuals or companies willing to sponsor an event, advertise in the programme or even donate a suitable gift to be auctioned should get in contact with the EWBG.

Those who cannot afford to contribute money can always offer their time not only by volunteering as a guide but also by acting as a spotter or marker at one of the tournaments.

Peter Alliss has been a patron of the EWBG since shortly after its foundation in 1982. He said: “The association has built up steadily over the years and continues to attract more and more new members. I would like to thank everyone who has helped EWBG raise funds, whether it is by staging various events, sponsorship or donations. If you’ve discovered EWBG for the first time, can I ask you lend us your support in order the charity can continue its unique and valuable work.”

To find out more about EWBG and how you can help, visit www.blindgolf.co.uk or email andy@blindgolf.co.uk

 

 

Stephen Killick
By Stephen Killick September 1, 2017 12:49
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6 Comments

  1. kerry September 1, 13:36

    Wonderful read!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mark September 1, 16:59

    Why is this not supported by r & a which must be awash with money?

    Reply to this comment
  3. GolfingSteve September 4, 12:43

    Having written this feature on behalf of EWBG for no charge I would at least have expected the courtesy of a by-line at the top of the feature rather than to have almost my entire story reproduced with Tania Longmire’s name at the top of it.

    Reply to this comment
    • Alistair September 4, 12:49

      Hi Steve – I’m happy to put a credit on the article, can you send me what details you need? The EWGB sent me the text – maybe because it’s for a good cause there was an assumption that it would be ok to use it? Whatever the reason we certainly would want to acknowledge where most of that text originally came from. Apologies for it leading to this

      Reply to this comment
      • GolfingSteve September 4, 13:14

        Thanks Alistair. Just ‘Writes Stephen Killick’ would be fine.

        Reply to this comment
        • Alistair September 4, 14:15

          Thanks Stephen – let me know if there are any issues now. And by the way I thought your piece was excellent – if you have any others like that you’d like on this site I’d be happy to oblige (and with your name!) All the best, Alistair

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