Renowned coach Gary Alliss has accepted the position of Patron to England and Wales Blind Golf (EWBG), taking over from his late father and legendary broadcaster, Peter.
The 67-year-old golf professional is a regular voice on Sky TV, covering the PGA EuroPro Tour, the world’s most broadcast development tour with whom EWGB has just agreed a partnership agreement that will see blind and visually impaired golfers joining pro-ams prior to tournaments.
Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach, Alliss, says it’s an "honour" to be given the opportunity. "There are so many much more famous golfers than I who they could have asked, but Andy Gilford [EWBG secretary] attributes my dad to saving his life, when he became aware through dad's commentary of EWBGA," says Alliss, who’s tasked with growing the number of PGA professionals who are willing to provide tuition.
Alliss is keen to highlight the work of his fellow coach, Anders Mankert, who has been providing lessons free of charge to blind and visually impaired golfers for many years.
"As you can imagine, many blind players have no income other than disability benefits, so paying for tuition is beyond them. The challenge is not too demanding for those who played before sight loss, but it is more difficult to teach a blind person from scratch.
"However, the rewards for coach and player are phenomenal. Some professionals are a bit scared to embrace the challenge, and I want to get them over this hurdle."
Alliss' enthusiasm for the game is as strong now as it was in 1983, when he became head professional at Trevose Golf Club. He's travelled the world teaching – and he’s keen to keep sharing his love of the game.
"I intend to try to get the word out that golf is a great way of alleviating loneliness, boredom and feelings of hopelessness about the future for blind and visually impaired players," he adds.
"I am really excited about the prospect of teaching more visually impaired players. Over the years, I have helped several, both in coaching terms, but also guiding. Karen, my wife, is also going to be involved and I think our most important goal is to bring hope that there is a future and they don't have to sit at home with feelings that life is passing them by."
GUIDING: HOW YOU CAN HELP
Another of Alliss' roles will be to help recruit people willing to act for the visually impaired and blind players, which, he says, is the "biggest challenge".
"The association has many people, particularly youngsters who would love to try golf and become regular players, but they need a guide not only on the course, but often also to take them to lessons or competitions," he explains.
"Guiding is very rewarding, with many becoming long term close friends, but there is a huge need for occasional guides across the country."
For more information, and to find out how you can help, email email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org