Thirty-six golfers are visiting the Creston Valley next week to compete in the 2015 Canadian Blind Golf Championships at the Creston Golf Club.
Host Darren Douma — who last year placed second in the world, Australian and Canadian blind golf championships, and competed June 21-26 on a North American team in Italy — has been working for two years to plan the event.
“It’s been a lot of work, but totally worth it,” said Douma , who was diagnosed in 2005 with Stargardt disease, an incurable and rare genetic juvenile form of macular degeneration, affecting central fine vision. “Being a part of blind golf has been an amazing experience and one I wanted to share with my community.”
Of the 36 players, 28 are from Canada (including six from B.C.), five are Americans and three are from the United Kingdom. They are divided into three categories: B1, with no light perception; B2, about five per cent vision; and B3, with about 10 per cent vision.
“Therefore, all blind golfers require a sight coach, which, determined by the player’s level of vision, will assist giving the necessary information the player needs to be able to align and hit the ball effectively,” said Douma.
Most participants in next week’s event will arrive Thursday for a wine tasting at the golf club and, for most, a Columbia Brewery tour. Players will practice June 10, and volunteers, sponsors and club members will compete in an event that gives them a chance to experience blind golf. The championships will run July 11 and 12.
Douma said the tournament couldn’t have been pulled off without the help volunteers from the community, service organizations and, of course, the Creston Golf Club.
“I was confident when I approached Blind Golf Canada to have this event in Creston, that the community and our golf club would step up in a big way to welcome the blind golf community into ours,” said Douma. “Boy, was I right! Everyone has been amazing in stepping up to help in so many ways. I have over 60 golf club members stepping up, in addition to the Creston Valley Rotary Club and Creston Lions Club volunteering in any capacity we need them.”
To learn more about blind golf, visit www.vibebc.com and click on “Blind Golf”.