Peter North (Blind Golf Australia)
An interview by Golf Victoria for an article on volunteers.
Golf Victoria Magazine
Peter North, with David Wheatley,
Brighton Golf Course, Melbourne. November 8th 2017
Photographer David Pockett
Fifteen years ago, Peter North was working his then day job at Vision Australia in Kooyong when he came across John Capes, a blind golfer. He was familiar with blind cricket but not across the fact that sight-impaired people played golf.
John asked Peter, who was already a keen golfer, if he might like to caddie for him one day. It changed Peter’s life. He took so much enjoyment from helping John with his golf that he is still doing it to this day, albeit for other players.
Peter is secretary-treasurer of Blind Golf Australia and has been on the board of Blind Golf Victoria for 12 years. He caddies at state and national events for David Wheatley, one of the nation's best sight-impaired golfers.
In blind golf, the caddie assumes a huge importance, placing the golfer over the ball with the correct stance and describing the shot to be played. "To put it simply, the caddie is the blind golfer's eyes," he said. "That's one way of looking at it. It's projecting to the player what we see as sighted players. Conversation is crucial as well as being the player's eyes, and there's a lot of humour involved as well!"
Blind golf is a growing area of the game, with monthly competitions at Malvern Valley public course and the best players progressing to state and national titles.
As for Peter, he is rapt to be a part of it. "It's one of the best things that's ever happened to me. It's not that not much has happened to me; a lot has happened to me. Even though I'd worked with vision-impaired people for 20-plus years, this aspect – even though it wasn't work, it was voluntary -- was the most enjoyable part."
"Quite honestly, I get more out of it than they do. I've built genuine lifelong friendships."
Reproduced from the Golf Victoria Magazine.