Brief History

In early 2019 Blind Golf South Australia was invited to put on a demonstration at Grange Golf Club, at their driving range during the second days play of the ISPS Handa 2019 Australian Women’s Open Golf Championship by Golf Australia’s National Inclusion Manager Christian Hamilton. At this time we were a loose knit group, and Blind Golf South Australia was still in the aspirational phase of its existence. We put on a good demonstration, and were lucky enough to have Hannah Greene, Katherine Kirk, and the 2019 ISPS Handa Ambassador Sir John Keyes attend this clinic. The finished Golf Australia Media article of this clinic was posted on Blind Golf Australia’s website in the following week.

After this demonstration we asked Christian Hamilton for the opportunity to take part in another demonstration in 2020 should the opportunity arise. We made another request to Christian in November 2019 via email in the hope of being a part of a potential demonstration in 2020, and were supported by Doug Sloan and Peter North in reaffirming this request. During the second half of 2019, we acquired all of the pedigree documentation to make Blind Golf South Australia a legitimate Incorporated Association, and were accepted by Blind Golf Australia as an affiliated organization at their AGM on 30th October 2019.

2020 Lead Up

In late January 2020, we were advised by Doug Sloan that planning by Christian Hamilton was in progress for Blind Golf South Australia to conduct a demonstration at Royal Adelaide Golf Club on February 12th prior to the beginning of the ISPS Handa 2020 Australian Women’s Open Golf Championship. We were subsequently contacted by Christian Hamilton on 30th January, and it was recommended that we invite as many potential supporting bodies in South Australia to attend. We were also told that the demonstration would result in some one-off funding by Golf Australia, for the specific purpose of running our own Come N’ Try sessions and Golf Clinics. We contacted

We received an incredibly positive response, and were elated that all were able to attend. We were also surprised that half of the supporting agencies invited, had never heard of Blind Golf before. But considering there hasn’t been a Blind Golfers Association in South Australia since approximately 2008, and no South Australian Blind Golf Tournament played here since 2003, it made sense.

Demonstration Day

Arriving at 12:30pm with VIP’s arriving around 1:15pm for a 1:30pm start. We were allocated Royal Adelaide’s short game practice area to set up in, including ours and supporting Agencies banners.

Attending VIP’s

Attending Agencies & Personnel

Gavin Fontaine from Willunga Golf Course & McCracken Country Club, and Anne Marie Knight from West Beach Parks Golf were the primary All-Abilities Golf Coaches who conducted the demonstration. Dame Laura Davies also gave some of her time and vast experience, to assist in conducting the clinic.

Peter Phillips, Corey Wingard, Dame Laura Davies, and Andrea Lee were all good enough to hit some balls wearing the Blindness Simulator Glasses during the demonstration (Refer Peter North for Images). The only negative of the afternoon, was that there were no formal introductions to any of the International VIP’s, and after the demonstration began, the opportunity to do so had passed.

The absolute surprise of the afternoon was The Hon. Corey Wingard., who not only made sure he was introduced to the South Australian representation. Spent time talking to us, and asking us incredibly detailed and insightful questions to really find out what Blind Golf entails. He also stayed well after the other VIP’s had left, and made sure he spoke to everyone. His pedigree as a Sports Journalist shone through, and we were all pleasantly surprised,

Video Link

Blind Golf Clinic at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open (YouTube video courtesy of Golf Australia).

Outcomes

As the object of this demonstration was to introduce Blind Golf South Australia to the Blind and Vision Impaired community in South Australia. With the support of the previously referred to people and organizations, we feel we’ve taken a giant leap forward in that endeavor. As a public relations and promotional exercise, it was an incredible success. We’re sure you’re all aware how long it can take to build and attract new Members to an organization like ours. Considering we’re only 5 months old, we know it will take a couple of years at least to build up a solid Membership.

We have inspired Beyond Blind to start taking a group of their clients out to a local Driving Range every week to help develop their basic skills, and give them the opportunity to try Golf if it’s something they want to pursue. We have also had 2 RSB clients contact us in the last fortnight to find out what is required to get involved. In regards to funding for Clinics and Introductory sessions, Christian Hamilton and Darrin Johnson were discussing the prospect of collaborative funding to help give us the greatest chance of success in painting consistency and longevity in providing these services to aspiring Blind and Vision Impaired Golfers.

Now, it’s solely up to us to maintain this momentum, and provide the best possible opportunities to Blind and Vision Impaired people in South Australia to enjoy, and succeed in their participation in Blind Golf.

Cameron Reid

President

Blind Golf South Australia Incorporated

Email: blindgolfsa@gmail.com