What does it mean to you to be appointed Captain/Vice Captain of the 2019 Vision Cup ?
It is humbling. This is my fourth year of competition internationally and leading our North American Team with Darren will be fantastic. And, as a 25-year Member of Ballybunion, I am very very excited to be playing in the Vision Cup in Ireland, my second golf ‘home’.
Tell me why playing golf is important to you ?
I have been losing my central vision over the last 25 years. Just about the time, I was really struggling, I discovered blind golf. It has changed my life in virtually every way. I love competing and my wonderful collection of friends/competitors from around the world. At one point, I thought I would never play again; now, I look forward to competing for as many years as possible. And … another very private reason. My Dad was blind from the age of 19 to his passing at 93. He lived a remarkably full life; he would absolutely love that I am competing.
What is your national association doing to promote the inclusion of young people in blind golf ?
The United States Blind Golf Association (USBGA) dates back some 70 years with hundreds of tournaments and participants including several competitors successful on the international stage. Like the IBGA, the USBGA is committed to growing the came and to our beneficiary program – Building Blind Confidence. Our golf tournaments are dedicated to supporting organizations that work with the vision impaired to build life and competitive confidence together with sustaining friendships.
What excites you about the VSI Inclusion Games, and the role that the Vision Cup has to play to promote this ?
The VSI Inclusion Games is yet another step in sharing the people, the stories and the achievements of blind golfers around the world. When I share stories of our tournaments and the background stories of our players, the reaction is always the same: “ … I had not idea blind people could play golf … and you compete all over the world? … And … I have a friend who is vision impaired, he would love to participate.” The VSI Inclusion Games will be one of the biggest ‘stages’ in the history of blind golf. I could not be more excited and extend my thanks to the entire blind golf community in Ireland for helping this dream come true.
Would you like to say anything about the importance of ISPS Handa to the development of golf for blind and disabled around the world.
Since the late 1990’s, Dr. Handa, working through ISPS, has almost single- handedly built the game of blind golf around the world. Dr. Handa speaks often about bringing golf to the vision and physically challenged. As a Director of the IBGA, I enthusiastically support his long-term vision. Our work has just begun; the opportunities are substantial.