August 10, 2005.
BBC News, Sport (UK).
Blind golf is played all over the world and the first match was believed to have been played in America in the 1920's. But what exactly is the game all about? British champion Simon Cookson explains.
What is blind golf?
Simon Cookson: Blind golf is exactly the same as normal golf but the main difference is that the player can use the help of his or her caddy also known as a guide.
What does the guide do?
SC: The guide is the player's eyes. My guide, Stuart, describes how the ball lies on the floor, what the yardage is and most importantly, sets me up so I hit the ball correctly.
The extra club has to be taken away for the shot
Some players like me, like having a club laid on the floor during the set up. This helps to aim the shot in the right direction.
How does your sight compare to other blind golfers?
SC: I have about 10% of vision so I fit in the B3 category which is the category for golfers who can see the best. The maximum handicap in this category is 36.
B2 is the next category with a maximum handicap of 45. They can see between 3-6% of normal vision.
The B1 category is for people who have pretty much zero vision. Their handicap extends to 56.
How much can you see when you take a shot for example?
SC: I can see a contrast between what is grass and fairway; and the trees surrounding the green. And then obviously there's the sky.
But other than that there's no real features at all.
Can you see the ball properly?
SC: I can see the ball all the time. But for the downswing from the horizontal the club is completely invisible right down until it's about an inch from the ball.
How much trust do you need in your caddy?
SC: If you're going to hit good golf shots you need to commit to the shot fully. So the information Stuart gives me I trust and go with it. It's as simple as that.
We've been together for about four years.
Does the guide need to be a good player?
SC: No. Stuart, as a golfer, ranks somewhere around terrible! I've seen him have a go and he can get the ball off the ground occasionally - but that's about it!
How hard is it on the putting green?
SC: Once we get onto the green the target becomes that much smaller.
Coming up with the ingredients for a putt are much more complicated than a full shot from the tee or the fairway.
When I arrive on the green, I would always walk the putt from the hole to the ball. That allows me to measure the distance of the putt.
Then I will put the club head behind the ball, try and get it in the middle. Stuart will tell me if I need to open the face of the putter or not.
And once he's happy I just go ahead and make the stroke and listen for it going in!
End of article.
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