Kenilworth: Course open. Trolleys allowed. 2 seat ride on buggies not permitted.
Rule 14-2b states “A player must not make a stroke with his caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie positioned on or close to an extension of the line of play or line of putt behind the ball”.
Yet on Wednesday 10th February I, as Captain, was seen to permit – and even condone – the non adherence to this rule throughout my round.
There is an extension to the rules of golf which permits this apparent infringement entitled “Modified Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities” and I saw these modifications in action when playing with Barry Ritchie with his caddie/guide Chris Peake.
Barry Ritchie is a blind golfer – and is in fact captain of the English Blind Golf Association. He is classified as a B1 golfer; B1 being defined as "No light perception in either eye, up to some light perception but inability to recognize the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction."
Blind golfers are allowed to have a coach or guide and they are allowed to stand in what would otherwise be an illegal position in order to line up their player for the shot. They cannot assist in making the stroke – the golfer still has to do that – but they can set the golfer into position and then adjust that position carefully until they tell the golfer to hit the ball.
It was fascinating to watch the team work in action – because it is a team that is playing. I saw some mis-hits but I saw some really good shots too. I was impressed with the patience, the determination and the fortitude of Barry as he and Chris worked their way around the course.
|Showing the line||Placing the club||Lining up the stance|
The photos depict how Chris showed Barry the line, how he placed the club in position and then gave the verbal instructions to Barry to get him correctly lined up for his shot.
|Setting the putter in place||Standing behind while putting|
For putting, a similar process would be followed in setting the club and lining up the player. Prior to that, Chris stepped out the distance from the hole with Barry to help him get a feel for the slopes over which the putt would roll and also the distance. Chris told Barry the distance of the putt - adjusted for uphill or downhill - and it was amazing how accurately Barry was able to get the distance of his long putts. So much so, in fact, that he rolled in an 18 foot putt on the last hole for a par.
One of the really good features of golf was demonstrated during our round together. The handicap system allows players of various levels of ability to compete with one another. Blind golfers may have handicaps up to 54 - and Barry has a handicap of 49. Over our second 9 holes yesterday Barry and I drew - we both scored 17 points showing just how well the system works.
What a great sport!