Some of the top blind golfers in the world played at Alberni Golf Club in the 2013 Canadian Open Blind Golf Championship Aug. 12-13.
Tournament chair and golfer Doug Stoutley brought the internationally known competition to Port Alberni because, quite simply, he’s from here.
“We have a very good golf course,” Stoutley explained. “And we have a very strong Lions Club that is hosting us and that has fundraised for us.”
For the tournament, there are three different levels of blindness. The B-1’s, or totally blind golfers, must have blacked-out eyewear on, as per the rules in blind golf. Stoutley is a B-3 and has two world championship runner-up finishes under his belt.
Some of the blind golfers attending include the current No. 1 and 2 ranked world and Canadian blind B-1 golfers, Zohar Sharon and Brian MacLeod. Top B-2 in the world, Ron Plath from Oregon, who has a 10 handicap, and two of the top four B-2 ladies golfers, Donna Hawkins from Ontario and Lillian Haas from Manitoba are also competing.
Stoutley explained each golfer has a caddy or sighted guide who help position the club to tee off, hit from the fairway or ready the putt. With information provided by the caddy or by pacing the distance themselves when putting, the golfer will then decide how hard and where to hit the ball.
“My personal motto is hit it out of sight,” Stoutley said. “The international blind motto is you don’t have to see it to hit it.”
Alberni Valley Lions Club president Robert Dalton said the Lions Club has a history with supporting various causes for the blind, so it was a no brainer for the local club to sponsor this international event.
“Doug is a member of the Lions Club and he put in a bid, which was successful, to host the Canadian Open Blind Golf Championship,” Dalton said.
“The club accepted this challenge and we Lions are very happy to host this event.”
Dalton added the event could not be successful without the support of the Alberni Golf Club and all the volunteers.
About 26 golfers and their caddies representing Canada, United States, Ireland, Scotland, Japan and Israel participated in this two-day event.
Results were not available by press time.