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Blind golfers tee it up at Golf Dome

Written by Clark Stork
The SBSA held a blind golf event at the Golf Dome on March 7.

People with varying degrees of sight ability came out to the Golf Dome on March 7 for a day of golf in preparation of the season.

The Saskatchewan Blind Sports Association (SBSA) has been setting aside a day for experienced golfers and newcomers to try the sport for over three decades. Judy Ursulan is the golf coordinator for the SBSA, she said the attendees are always excited for the event especially when PGA of Saskatchewan professionals help out.

“It was good, we had Steve (Ryde) and Brent (Eikelenboom) as instructors and they watch what you do, and they try to correct you or give you advice on how you can do better. The golfers look forward to it every year, it’s kind of our kickoff to the season,” she said.

Ursulan has been involved with the SBSA for approximately 30 years. She said the event is great for long time golfers with sight impairments or players new to the sport.

“We had one new golfer out this year, she’s very excited,” Ursulan said. “She’s been out hitting some balls and she was excited about it so that’s great. We need more women in it, I was the only women for years so I’m glad. I encourage her to take it up, golf is a good sport.”

Ryde is the tournament and sport manager with Golf Saskatchewan, and a PGA of Saskatchewan professional, as is Eikelenboom who works out of The Legends in Warman. He’s been involved wit the SBSA golfers for about seven years. He said he looks forward to assisting the players when they meet up.

“It’s fun for me teaching people with a disability,” Eikelenboom told Golf Saskatchewan. “It’s a different form of teaching. It’s a rewarding thing right. It’s pretty rewarding watching someone hit a golf ball who can barely see it.”

The golfers that came out vary is sight levels. They also differ in skill levels. For the beginners the professionals worked with basic tips, the advanced players were given instruction with feet placement, swing techniques, and gripping of the club. Eikelenboom said he appreciates taking the day to work with the SBSA and their athletes.

“The appreciation they have that someone is willing to help them out,” he said. “There’s a lot of stereotypes in sports that if you have a disability you can’t do it. Over the years I’ve developed a relationship with these people. A lot of people come back every year, they know who I am, and I know them by name and where they are from. I look forward to it every year, going back and seeing how they have progressed and how they’ve applied what we’ve taught them to do so it’s good that way.”

A pair of the attendees were using the day for a refresher ahead of an event in Arizona, it’s been cancelled due to Covid-19. The Western Canadian Blind Golf Championships in Calgary in July is also cancelled for what Ursulan says is the first time in the history of the event.

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