Golf from a different view
Camperdown golfer Archie Stevenson doesn’t believe impaired vision should stop him playing the sport he loves.
He lost sight in his left eye 18 years ago due to laser scarring from surgery to fix a bleed, but was able to still manage with good vision in his right eye.
About a year ago, though, a blockage in a vein in his right eye stopped his blood flow getting to the retina, and more haemorrhaging as a result of the blockage cost him the vision in his right eye.
“Medically, they’ve been trying to kill the eye off to stop building pressure,” he said.
Strangely, though, with his right eye out of action, Archie’s left eye, which had been dormant for nearly two decades, suddenly began to work again in a small capacity.
“It’s seeing about 20 per cent, but I can’t read or write,” he said.
“I’m seeing light-dark-light-dark, colours, but no detail.”
He is no longer able to drive and, with his sight so deteriorated, the passionate golfer was concerned about his future in the sport.
But his Melbourne-based daughter Julie, came to the rescue after finding out about Blind Golf Australia.
The association promotes a slightly modified version of golf, allowing blind and vision impaired people to continue to play.
The regular golf handicap roof is lifted depending on the level of vision-impairment, with B1 golfers - those who are totally blind - able to play with a handicap of 54.
Archie is classified as a B3 golfer, due to his level of vision impairment.
The role of the caddy also increases significantly.
“The system works using a caddy who is proficient in lining up the player with where the club is, where the ball is, where the hole is,” Archie said.
“The caddy is the extremely good bit of it and is really what makes it work.”
Archie’s wife Sue has been caddying for him in the six months since he started playing with the group of 10 to 15 golfers, which meet every two-to-three weeks in Melbourne.
Recently, the pair made the trip to the Rosebud Country Club to compete in the Australian and Victorian championships.
Sue said players carpe from, Perth, Sydney and all across Australia for the national championships, which were generously sponsored by ISPS HANDA, whose founder and chairman, Japanese businessman Dr Haruhisa Handa, has been a devoted supporter of the sport for over 25 years.
Archie still plays golf at Camperdown with his regular handicap, but said he was keen to see blind golf grow, especially in the country.
“It’s a great way to get out somewhere and play golf with different people,” he said.
“If there are people in town who are interested, we can get a group together.”
Sue said the golfers that competed in Rosebud varied greatly in age, from 85 years old down to 29.
“One of the big plusses for it is, because you’re mixing with other people who have vision impairment, you get really good information on what services that are available and how you can improve your quality of life,” she said.
“One lady even has a guide dog she plays with.”
Anyone interested in playing blind golf or wanting to learn more can contact Archie and Sue Stevenson on 5593-3023.