My attention was drawn this week by a visiting golfer in Thailand, to a golf tournament held earlier last month at Downfield Golf Club in Dundee in Scotland. The tournament was attended by over 20 partially sighted and blind golfers, including Tayside and Fife Blind Golf Society. Most players were accompanied by a guide who assisted in describing distance, direction and characteristics of the hole. They also helped with club alignment.
I guess most participants would have thought they would have an equal chance with all the other competitors when they teed off. But when some began holing long putts, pointing towards the green and even reading from their own scorecards, some eyebrows were raised. And by the time the winner walked off the 18th green the result was already in doubt amid claims that sighted players had taken part.
One observer, who did not want to be named, was appalled at the apparent ‘abuse of goodwill’ and wrote an anonymous letter to the local newspaper. It said: ‘I work in the voluntary sector so am aware of most disabilities and their consequences, but it was obvious the majority of these “blind” people were sighted. In the clubhouse I observed “blind” people walking around unaided, buying refreshments and going up and down stairs with ease. Outdoors many were pulling their own trolleys and one in particular was reading a scorecard. I watched players tee off with little or no assistance and several watched their own shot approach a green. One particular gentleman even pointed up the fairway before asking “Is that a flag?” I struggled to see the flag against the tree line, and I can see to drive a car! Perhaps the worst of all was the number of “blind” players who putted out without any assistance and then picked their own ball out of the cup.’ Downfield Golf Club said that it would not be taking any action.
Hmmm. That reminds me of the golfing joke about the Social Worker, the Surgeon, the Bank Manager and the Engineer playing a four ball at their local club one Saturday morning. Play was disastrously slow and the four enquired of the course marshal what was causing the hold up. The marshal told them: ‘Remember last year when the clubhouse nearly burnt down and was only saved by the fast response from the local fire brigade? Well, one of the firemen involved, who was a keen golfer, lost his sight and, as a gesture, the club has allowed him to play a round of golf today.’ ‘Wow, that’s great!,’ said the Social Worker, ‘I can make sure that he is getting all of the social services that he needs.’ ‘Yes,’ said the Surgeon, ‘and my wife is a top eye specialist. I’ll arrange an appointment for him to check that everything is being done to restore his sight’. ‘And I can arrange to set up a trust fund to pay for any treatment’ said the Banker. Then the Engineer piped up: ‘Why can’t he play at night?’
If anyone has an interesting or amusing story about golf in Thailand , or elsewhere, please post it or email it to me.
Play fast, swing slow!