SIGA Sport Integrity Week
Can blind people play golf? A visually-impaired golfer explains the impact of the sport on his life
As part of SIGA Sport Integrity week Myles Clark, who has played golf for Scotland, discusses the importance of anti-discrimination procedures in sport.
“When I was born, my parents were told I’d never be able to do the things that “normal” children do. I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike, I probably wouldn’t be able to go on a go-kart”.
Myles Clark, who hails from Brechin in the east of Scotland, achieved all that and plenty more despite being visually impaired from birth. His condition, nystagmus, causes him to have involuntary eye movements and little in the way of central vision, yet it hasn’t prevented him from representing his country at the sport he loves - golf.
How does blind golf work?
Speaking to AS USA for SIGA Sport Integrity week, Myles admits that golf “isn’t really a sport you’d associate with a blind person! I don’t know if most visually impaired people would think of golf as something to do”.
Just how does blind golf work, then, and what are its main challenges? Well, as Myles explains, there are blind golfers with varying degrees of visual impairment, including some who have no vision at all. In his case, he can line himself up to the ball and hit it without any difficulty, but is reliant on his playing partners to tell him where it ends up.
“If I could see, I’d be out on the golf course every day. I can’t practice on my own. If I had a caddie or a guide all the time, that might help”.
Playing blind golf “the most amazing thing”
Myles joined Blind Golf Scotland, a registered charity in his homeland, as a teenager, and was given the opportunity, along with a guide, to play courses all across Scotland and compete in tournaments which allowed him to qualify to represent his country in an annual Ryder Cup-style event against England, which he has done on a number of occasions.
He qualified for the team for the first time at the age of 14, but was deemed too young to play in it until he turned 16. Even so, he remains the youngest person ever to play blind golf for Scotland.
“It’s made me the person I am today. It’s the most amazing thing, I met some amazing people, won a lot of competitions I never thought I would win and got to represent Scotland at something I never thought I would’ve been able to represent them at”.
For Myles, raising awareness of blind golf is an ongoing challenge, but one which is making progress around the globe, with societies similar to Blind Golf Scotland now popping up in more and more countries worldwide.
Sport Integrity Week
On Wednesday 6 September, AS USA hosted a session of SIGA’s Sport Integrity Week, the the global thought-leadership event held from 2 to 9 September 2023, which aims to to unite the global sporting industry, share best practice and find solutions to current and future challenges to enhance sports’ governance, protect sport’s integrity and ensure sport’s long-term, sustainable development.
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