Winners have been announced for the 68th annual United States Blind Golf Association National Championship, an annual tournament that was held in Oregon City, Oregon, from Aug. 18-21, and Warwick is well represented.
Mike McKone, who resides in Warwick, was named the most improved golfer in the B-2 and B-3 divisions, which are reserved for players with little or better usable vision.
It’s quite an honor, considering the wide range of players. Blind and visually impaired golfers from as far away as Hawaii and Massachusetts flew to the Portland area to vie for the title of “best blind or visually impaired golfer in the nation.” The USBGA National Championship occurred at Stone Creek Golf Club. The organization presented trophies to the winners and inducted longtime Championship Director Ron Plath to its 2012 Hall of Fame during a special dinner on Aug. 21.
Golfers competed in categories ranging from totally blind (B-1) and little usable vision (B-2) to better usable vision (B-3). Winners in those categories received trophies designating them as the best blind or vision-impaired golfers in the nation. To be eligible to compete on the national level, a blind or vision-impaired golfer must have scored 125 or less (B-1), 110 or less (B-2), or 100 or less (B-3) in three qualifying rounds of golf.
Other winners besides McKone were:
B-1 Division: David Meador of Nashville, Tenn. (first place/national champion); Mario Tobia of Mount Laurel, N.J. (second place); and Ron Derry of Baltimore, Ohio (third place).
B-1 Division: Jim Baker of Hermitage, Tenn. (blind net champion).
B-1 Division: Tony Schiros of Odessa, Fla. (blind most improved).
B-2: Jeremy Poincenot of Carlsbad, Calif. (first place/national champion); and Jim Durand of Longview, Wash. (second place).
B-3: Ron Plath of Lake Oswego, Oregon (first place/national champion); and Scott Wilson of Ontario, Oregon (second place).
B-2 and B-3: Harry Hester of Austin, Texas. (net champion).
B-1, B-2 and B-3 Senior Division: Millard Reed of Reno, Nevada (low net senior)
“For someone like me, competing in a tournament like this is an opportunity to continue playing the game of golf,” Ron Plath said. “I was also honored to be inducted into the USBGA Hall of Fame and to chair an exemplary event like this in my home state of Oregon. I enjoy the competition along with the ability to increase the awareness of a great thing, blind golf.”
All 19 national championship tournament competitors who played in Portland were accompanied by coaches who “act as their eyes”. The coaches join their blind partners for breakfast, drive them to the golf course, manage their equipment, develop game-playing strategies, and provide directional advice for each hole. The golfers do all of the swinging, putting, slicing, triple-bogeying, and birdying.
National tournament competitors and their coaches were Jim Baker (Kyle Seeley) of Hermitage, Tenn.; John Casolo (David Mouton) of Waterbury, Conn.; Ron Derry (Roger Turnbull) of Baltimore, Ohio; Jim Durand (Steve Jones) of Longview, Wash.; Harry Hester (Randy Nutt) of Austin, Texas; Phil Hubbard (Todd Gariepy) of Orange City, Fla.; Takeo Maruyama (Ellen Tajima) of Pearl City, Hawaii; David Meador (Everett Davis) of Nashville, Tenn.; Michael McKone (Ed Hewitt) of Warwick, R.I.; Bill McMahon (Kevin Sullivan) of Framingham, Mass.; Mike Mercado (Tim Bartlett) of Albany, N.Y.; Ron Plath (Regi Christensen) of Lake Oswego, Oregon; Jeremy Poincenot (Lionel Poincenot) of Carlsbad, Calif.; Dick Pomo (Steve Olson) of Green Valley, Ariz.; Millard Reed (Jay Carter) of Reno, Nevada; Tony Schiros (Rich Gassner) of Odessa, Fla.; Mario Tobia (Matthew Tobia) of Mount Laurel, N.J.; Diane Wilson (Byron Wilson) of Seattle, Wash.; and Scott Wilson (Vicky Wilson) of Ontario, Oregon.
To make both tournaments possible, the organizing committee had to raise more than $40,000 from businesses, organizations and individuals. Tournament sponsors included the International Blind Golf Association and the Northwest Blind Golfers Association. The funds paid for the players’ green fees, lodging and meals.
The United States Blind Golf Association was founded in 1953 by blind golfer and lawyer Bob Allman. Today, the organization conducts three annual tournaments and holds more than a dozen clinics for blind and vision-impaired children through its junior blind golf program. The USBGA also has a Hall of Fame that honors legendary players and contributing organizations.
“Yes, we’re about golf, but what we’re really about is demonstrating for adults and children alike that absolutely nothing’s impossible through partnership,” said former USBGA President David Meador.
For more information about the USBGA National Championship tournament, call (615) 385-0784, send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.USBlindGolf.com.