10 Jan 2024 | All Abilities |

Tasmania opens its arms to blind golfers

by Martin Blake

Pat Dwyer Kingston Beach image
Pat Dwyer at Kingston Beach this week: making golf accessible for the vision-impaired.

Blind golf is coming to Tasmania for the first time – including the first tournament in the state for the vision-impaired. An historical anomaly meant that while golf for the vision-impaired was popular in all other states and territories, Tasmania had no formal organisation. That has been corrected recently with the formation of Blind Golf Tasmania, the gathering of a board of directors and the election of Pat Dwyer as inaugural president. Dwyer, a retired civil engineer, Kingston Beach Golf Club member and past club vice-president, has driven the change along with Golf Australia and Inclusive Innovations Tasmania. Already there have been two ‘come-and-try’ golf days for vision-impaired players with another one to come at Kingston Beach in Hobart at 2pm on Sunday, 4 February. Dwyer, who is vision-impaired himself, says the possibilities are untapped. But the signs are good already. The new organisation is planning the inaugural Blind Golf Tasmania Kingston Beach Championship on February 5 and 6 with healthy registrations rolling in. Blind Golf Australia has thrown its support behind the event for the next five years. Dwyer is a lifelong golfer who suffers from a hereditary optive nerve disorder called Lebers disease, which makes the golf ball look “like a pom-pom” as he addresses it. His motivation is to have golf provide social and competitive opportunities for more golfers with disability. Last March he contacted Blind Golf Australia about rules associated with blind golf, and was shocked to learn that BGA had no outlet in his home state. “I just said: ‘Well we’d better get one’,” said Dwyer. “Hopefully we create a platform for people like myself who’ve been golfers, and who’ve suffered either macular degeneration or age-related deterioration. “It’s a platform for them to play and also a pathway for younger people who have sight impairment. “Golf is a good sport for them. It’s one of the only sports where the target being the ball is still when you hit it.” Golf Australia’s participation manager (Tasmania), Simon Weston has joined the inaugural board and is delighted with what has been created in a short time.

“Golf Australia wants more Australians playing more golf, so we are pleased to support Blind Golf Tasmania in offering a tournament in February at the beautiful Kingston Beach golf club,” said Weston. "Blind Golf Tasmania is on a path to encourage more blind and low-vision people to get into playing golf which we fully support. It fits with the Golf Australia philosophy of ‘all golf is golf, and all of us can be golfers".

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