by B.E. Lewis, RDPFS intern:
Blind golf? The very concept may seem improbable in a sport so dependent on the eyes. And yet, at The U.S. Golf Association’s (USGA) 2023 U.S. Adaptive Open Golf Championship, blind golfers competed as well as athletes with a variety of other disabilities. The U.S. Adaptive Open is a national championship to showcase the world’s best golfers with disabilities. This competition was held for its second year at the historic Pinehurst (North Carolina) Resort and Country Club from July 10-12, 2023. Awards included 15 medals given to those who finished as the best scorer in their respective category, including one for players with visual impairment. This year’s recipients in the category for visual impairment were, for women, Amanda Cunha from Kaneohe, Hawaii, and, for men, Kiefer Jones from Canada. Participants play by a modified set of USGA rules in order to accommodate their needs. The U.S. Blind Golf Association explained how this works for players with vision loss: “Contrary to what one would initially perceive, blind golf is (played as) a team sport. The team consists of the blind golfer (player) and the coach. Simply stated, if there were no coaches in blind golf, there would be no blind golfers.” adding that “The responsibilities of the coach include walking the player to the ball, describing the shot and the distance, helping with club selection, and positioning and aligning the player and the club to the ball.” This player/coach partnership makes blind golf unique. For more information, visit the U.S. Blind Golf Association website. Read additional details here about this year’s USGA Adaptive Open Golf Championship.