28/07/2008

International Blind Golf Championships Set For Belfast

A surprising sport is coming to Northern Ireland - blind golfing.

Belfast's Belvoir Park Golf Club will host the World Blind Golf Championships from 10 - 12 August.

With one of the 'driving forces' behind the Championships being Comber's Jan Dinsdale - one of the top lady blind golfers in the world - the initiative is all the more appropriate.

Jan, (pictured) who is the current USA Open Champion, top European lady, and ranked third in the World and Vice President of the governing body of the International Blind Golf Association, is very pleased with the development.

Jan commented: "The last two Championships were held in Tokyo Japan in 2006 and in Melbourne Australia in 2004, so it's a special honour, and something of a coup, for Europe and Belfast to be chosen.

"We're extremely grateful to Belvoir Park Golf Club and its special committee for all their tremendous support and expertise. Their course is in excellent condition, and will present our golfers with a real challenge," she said.

Held every two years, this fascinating event will feature more than 50 of the world's top blind golfers, including current World Champions, Jenny McCallum from Australia and Simon Cookson from England.
News Image
Also coming are Bob Andrews, from the US, blinded by a mine in Vietnam, Diana Thiselton, from Australia, who has walked the Himalayas, and the world's oldest blind golfer, Jim Watt, from Scotland who is a mere 92.

Blind Golf is played almost entirely within the rules of the Royal and Ancient Rules of Golf, with the golfer assisted by a sighted guide or caddy, who gives verbal information on distance, direction and characteristics of each hole.

Officially announcing details of the event, Olympic Gold Medallist, Dame Mary Peters donned a blindfold for the occasion, "to get a more realistic feel of the challenges facing blind golfers".

Dame Mary said: "I have been a lifelong supporter of investment in sport for the disabled.

"I'm delighted to lend my support to this unique event and to congratulate all those involved in bringing it to Northern Ireland. I wish the players every success as they battle it out for world-class honours in this challenging sports environment."

Belfast's Lord Mayor, Tom Hartley, was also positive in his support: "We are proud to assist this event through our 'Support for Sport' scheme, and delighted to be working in partnership with Belvoir Park Golf Club and Disability Sport NI to deliver this prestigious competition.

"We look forward to warmly welcoming guests and to a highly successful World Championships in our city," he said.

(BMcC)

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