The sun is out for a great weekend of golf at the 2019 ISPS Handa Canadian Blind Championship near Cranbrook.
St. Eugene Golf Resort is host to the annual event running from July 12-13 that features 46 players, plus 46 coaches on the course. There are players all over the world including the United States, Israel, England, Scotland, South Korea and Mexico.
There will also be the reigning world champion and Canadian champion Kiefer Jones from Calgary who is competing.
“We have a very good turnout from elsewhere, which is fantastic,” said Darren Douma, chairman and host of the ISPS Handa Canadian Championships.
“At the Canadian Championships, we only get usually 32 participants and maybe three or four from the United States and abroad. The Kootenays and B.C. really appealed to everybody, and of course, combining these events (Western Canadian Championships and Canada Blind Championships) was attractive.”
Douma, from Creston, will also be playing the course, but he’s wearing a few other titles as well. He is the president of Western Canadian Blind Golf Association, vice-president of Blind Golf Canada and chairman and host of the 2019 Western Canadian Championships.
Having been competing in blind golf since 2013, Douma has set out to really promote the sport.
“It’s an opportunity for those who are blind or partially sighted to play golf, and we have three sight categories out there. B1, with no light perception, B2 with five per cent vision and B3 with 10 per cent. Obviously, we all require coaches, without our coaches, we couldn’t play. But the B1 coaches have a lot more work to do, they basically have to set up the player with their body as well as the club behind the ball and give a description of the hole,” explained Douma about the sport.
While at the championships, Douma says it’s a lot of fun and the blind/partially sighted golfers are like a family.
“We get to see each other only three-four times a year depending on if you are going abroad. When we get together it’s a great time on the course we all like to compete hard, but we also still have fun out there. When we get off it it’s like a major social activity,” he said.
While competing is the main focus, Douma says they are also hoping to raise awareness of blind golf.
“At the same time, we are trying to get the message out. That was my plan of hosting these, was to get the word out here in the Kootenays about not only blind golf but … other sports,” he said.
With the Kootenays having abundant golf courses, Douma says it’s one of those sports that people don’t realize is also available for blind/partially sighted people.
There are more tournaments upcoming across Canada, which include the Ontario Vision Impaired Golf, and then Brian MacLeod Memorial Open. As well as many tournaments across the world.