British Blind Golf Open Championships – 15-18 July, Scotland
Irish Blind Golf (IBG) was represented by six players and guides at the ISPS Handa British Blind Golf Open Championships in Scotland last month.
This annual competition was decided over 36 holes. There were approximately 40 players in the field, with almost two-thirds opting to play in the more difficult stroke play format, where every shot counts from the first tee to the thirty-sixth green.
The par 72 Cardronagh course is considered to have a high degree of difficulty, with its “standard scratch” set at 73. Only a handful of the competitors managed to shoot below standard scratch.
The dry spell of weather preceding the tournament baked the fairways and the greens, which led to long drives for the fortunate straight hitters. However, any shot slightly offline was heavily penalised in the second cut of rough, or should I say hay. Even the most consistent golfers struggled to keep lost balls and penalty shots off the card. This inevitably led to six hours of play on each day, a mental strain on player and guide.
Seven countries were represented. In addition to the four home countries, there were two players from Austria, one from Israel and one from the United States.
Darragh Stakelum finished runner-up to Israel’s Zohar Sharon in the B1 (totally blind) sight category. This is Darragh’s first stroke play competition, as he prepares to play in the World Championships in Rome in October. Darragh left some fine B1 golfers in his wake, including Scotland’s Chris Adams and England’s Ron Tomlinson.
Paul McCormack, the defending champion from 2017 was awarded best gross in the B2 category, showing a clean pair of heals to the largest sight class. Paul is another player, who is hitting form, on his way to Rome.
Carol Brill, another Rome bound golfer, was one of the few to net a sub 73 round on the second day. Playing in only her fifth international stroke play tournament, Carol was awarded the ladies net trophy.
IBG’s low handicapper, Patrick Morgan was leading the field, and on the verge of becoming the champion golfer, with two holes to play, when he slipped to an uncharacteristic 7,6 finish over the final two par fours, to finish joint runner-up with veteran Paul O’Rahilly. Patrick’s score of 145 now leaves him with the lowest handicap ever achieved by an IBG golfer of 22.5.
As mentioned above, the veteran O’Rahilly was awarded tournament runner-up on countback, also finishing on 145. This is the second year that Paul has played second fiddle to the net champion.
John Eakin from the UK was awarded B3 gross, Karin Becker from Austria the ladies’ gross. The champion golfer for 2018 was the retired military man, the powerful and affable Jason Heathfield.
IBG Chairman, Adrian Downey, didn’t bring his A-game to Scotland. He was up against a wily local Sam Sloane, who won the Stableford (points) competition, with an amazing 66 points over the two days.
Big shout out to our guides, Patrick Morgan Snr, Eamon McGee, John Kennedy, Pat Coburn, Gerry McCormack and Teresa for Carol.