In a comprehensive victory, the Rest of the World team beat the Northern American side by a score of 15.5 to 8.5 to win the 2019 ISPS Handa Vision Cup at Portmarnock Links GC.
With The Amateur Championship taking place at nearby Portmarnock, another notable event was held just along the road and some 20 minutes from Dublin.
This International Blind Golf Association event was hosted in Ireland this year, supported by Vision Sports Ireland and the Northern Ireland Blind Golf Association. The tournament showcased 12 of the best blind golfers from North America who took on their counterparts from around the world in a Ryder Cup-style competition between 18 and 20 June.
Support from The R&A
The R&A supported the staging of the event through a financial contribution, fitting in with their broad support of disability golf, including funding of the Henrik Stenson Foundation work with disabled golfers, EDGA funding and the adoption of the World Rankings for Golfers with Disability adopted with the USGA on 1 January this year.
After a superb contest, the winning putt was sunk by the long-hitting Scotsman Barry McCluskey. The competition was intense from the off with the first two days of action taking the form of two rounds of foursomes ahead of 12 final day singles ties.
It was a tension packed couple of days which saw large crowds from the local community following players around the course, all astonished at what they were witnessing by the blind golfers.
The Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Chris Hilton, was on hand on the final day to welcome the players and announce their tee offs.
Promote blind golf
Irish Government Minister for Education Joe McHugh also came to Portmarnock. Then, in a ceremony, visually impaired Irish Senator Martin Conway presented the winning trophy to Rest of the World team captain, South African Garrett Slattery.
Speaking at the event local Mayor Eoghan O’Brien said, “I’m delighted that Fingal County Council has been able to support this event and promote blind golf in this way. I want to personally congratulate all the golfers and guides who took part in the competition over the last few days.”
Director of the 2019 ISPS Handa Vision Cup and former NYPD captain and first responder during the 911 terror attacks in New York, Paul McCormack, also played in the competition. Paul is the first Irish man to ever make the Rest of the World team.
Speaking at the event, he added, “It has been a long road to get the 2019 ISPS Handa Vision Cup to Portmarnock and I’m delighted to see the hard work and dedication of all involved has really paid off. The competition has been a huge success. It has been a privilege for me to be able to showcase Ireland to the international, visually impaired community.”
McCormack continued, “It is my hope that by hosting this event in Ireland we can build blind golf here and promote the sport to the next generation of visually impaired and blind people. It is very important that we use this opportunity to promote equal sporting opportunities for young people. It has been a central theme of the competition.”
As part of the four-day event, the golfers met visually impaired children from around Dublin at a nearby driving range and taught them how to tee off.
The biannual competition has been running since 2013 and has been growing in size and scale since its inception. The cup is named after Dr Haruhisa Handa, founder of the first Blind Golf Club (now called the Japanese Blind Golf Association, JBGA) in Japan in 1988 and is known as ‘the father of blind golf’.
More information about the Vision Cup can be found at www.visioncup.ie