Blind golfers show pro Alfie Plant a thing or two
The Englishman hits a sweet wedge shot wearing a blindfold as he spends some time with members of the Blind Sports Federation
Things may not have gone Alfie Plant’s way on the course this afternoon, but it was his actions off it that will surely warm the cockles of your heart.
The 25-year-old Englishman set aside his disappointing seven-over-par 77 in round one of the UBS Hong Kong Open to share a few pearls of wisdom with the Hong Kong Blind Sports Federation's keenest golfers in Fanling on Thursday evening.
“It's remarkable that they can play golf,” he said. “I found it tough today so if they can play like they did on a regular basis, they are truly great.”
Plant, who won the Royal Birkdale Open Championship Silver Medal in July, took to the driving range to demonstrate his swing techniques before the federation members would take to the stage – or so he thought.
“I should have warmed up a bit more,” he joked as a blindfold was tied around his eyes.
Sure enough, the reigning amateur European champion hit the sweet spot much to the delight of the participants, who did exactly the same when it was their go.
“It was so nice to spend time with them,” said Plant. “It’s my first time in Asia and they taught me a thing or two out there, too.”
The federation's CEO, Grace Chan, was not surprised to see her blind golfers perform so well.
“We started golf training classes since 2008,” said Chan, who also heads the Asian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness. "Usually they practise on the driving range but we also play on real courses once a year.
Chan set up the federation nearly 10 years ago with the mission to use sports as a means to “see more happy faces”.
“It's so important to them. A lot of [our members] used to be able to see but lost their sight, thus losing self confidence.
“They became passive and didn't want to meet anybody, so we wanted to restore their self confidence and integrate them into society again – through sports rehabilitation.
“They are learning that there are still so many people who care for them and their happiness can be restored.
“They talk like everybody else, swing like everybody else. You don't feel they are blind; they are just like us.”