Worthing blind golfer Gilford earns Handa Vision Cup spot

Worthing golfer Andy Gilford has been selected in the Handa Vision Cup team
Worthing golfer Andy Gilford has been selected in the Handa Vision Cup team
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Worthing-based blind golfer Andrew Gilford will be part of a 12-man Rest of the World team aiming to defend their ISPS Handa Vision Cup title in July.

The competition, billed as the ‘blind Ryder Cup’, sees Team America and Canada take on a Rest of the World side.

Gilford, formerly a Worthing Golf Club member, now plays for West Hove and has been selected for the event once again – having been part of the team from around the globe that won the Handa Vision Cup two years ago.

The Worthing golfer is guided by wife Melanie and revealed gaining selection for one of blind golf’s most prestigious tournaments is a ‘great honour’.

He said: “It’s a fantastic honour to be have been selected once again after competing in the last match two years ago.

“We ended up winning the cup that year to make it two wins from two for Rest of the World and we’ll be hoping to make it three in July.”

The 2015 competition was held in Italy, so this time around Rest of the World travel to North America to fight for the Handa Vision Cup in Creston, Canada.

Since making the move to West Hove, Gilford has been working closely with the head professional at the club, Ryan Fenwick.

The Worthing-based player finished runner-up in the order of merit last year, while he is currently European number two and number six in the B2 category across the globe.

Expanding on his particular category, Gilford said: “I play to the same rules as normal golf, the only difference is that I can ground my club in a hazard and Melanie (my wife and guide) or my playing partners at the club act as my eyes lining me up.

“I have no central vision and can only make out a small part of the ball and clubhead, so its down to trusting your swing and relying on yardages.”

Gilford currently plays off 16 and has been using pioneering technology at Rustington Golf Centre, which allows him to play alone.

He said: “I have been using the new Fightscope technology at Rustington Golf Range. This allows me to practice on my own as the TV screen allows me to see where the ball has gone.”

Lancing company Digiquip Group have been sponsoring Gilford over the past 12 months to help with funding.

The Worthing golfer admits without the help of Gary and Rayner Forster competing would be difficult.

He said: “I’ve been kindly helped and supported by the company over the past year.

“Costs can be quite substantial as you are playing for yourself and a guide to enter competitions abroad.This was a major reason in me being unable to play in last year’s World Championships , which was held in Japan."

Gilford is looking for funding and sponsorship ahead of his trip to Canada to compete in the Handa Vision Cup later this year.

Anyone interested in helping the Worthing-based golfer can contact him at andygilford28@hotmail.co.uk

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