World blind golf champion Jason keen to defend his title

Thursday 23rd April 2020 1:36 pm
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Jason Bastable, right, told members of Farnham Sports Council about his achievements before the lockdown – and they decided to help him out with a donation towards his costs of training and playing in this country and abroad. Tom Crowe is pictured handing over the cheque at the meeting

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WORLD blind golf champion Jason Bastable is waiting to hear whether he will be able to defend his crown this year.

The 48-year-old from Farnham was crowned world champion in 2018 in Italy.

The next championships are scheduled to take place in South Africa in September – but the coronavirus crisis may put paid to that.

Jason, who plays off a handicap of 23, said: “We are still waiting to hear what’s happening – but everything is up in the air at the moment.

“I did have someone who was coming to be my guide – we were going to go out and make a holiday of it – but he can’t make it any more..

“My step-father has stepped in –he’s done it before and is very good – but we’re waiting to see if the championships will go ahead.”

Jason won the world title in 2018 at the Golf Club Parco de’ Medici in Rome.

The two-day Italian Open preceded the world event, and Jason admits he struggled at that tournament.

“I couldn’t get my yardages sorted out – I’d hit what I thought was a good shot but nothing came off,” he said.

“We were really puzzled throughout Monday and Tuesday.

“Wednesday was a rest day before the world championships on the Thursday and Friday on the same course.

“We were allowed out on to the course to practise so we went out for nine holes. And it was then we realised what we had done wrong – we were used to playing to yardage markers, while in Italy they use metres! We made the adjustment and the next two days were a lot better!”

Jason won the B3 category nett strokeplay world title by seven shots.

B3 is for players with only ten per cent of vision.

Jason said: “B1 is for players who are totally blind, B2 for those with five per cent vision, and B3 for people like me, with ten per cent.

“I can see, but the best way of describing it is it is like seeing through fog. You know how hard it is to see when you’re driving through fog? Well, it’s like that.

“I have glaucoma, which is treatable but not curable. The trouble for me was that by the time it was diagnosed, I had already had 35 years of damage, so being cured was a bridge too far.

“I have had four operations on each eye to see what can be done, and at the moment I am on a three-month break from any medication to see how my eyes can cope.

“I can see about 3ft in front of me – and after that, everything is blurred. When I play golf, all I can really see is a green blur.

“We play with a guide, who helps line us up and tells us what we have facing us.

“The hardest part is putting. Over the years you get a feel for it, but it’s still difficult. I have a method which works well for me – I take the putter back to my heel for one-metre putts, to my ankle for two metres, and to my my toes for three metres. My guide has to tell me about slopes and break, and things like that, and we make adjustments.

“Actually hitting the ball with my woods and irons isn’t too bad – it’s the short game where rounds are won and lost.

“The England and Wales Blind Golf organisation have been brilliant.

“They organise events through the summer and we can pick up ranking points by finishing in the top five or so, which go towards a world ranking and help us get invitations to European events.

“It was through that I was invited to Italy to play in the Open and the world championships.

“Our tournaments are limited to 56 players – very different to normal tournaments which have 140 and sometimes more. We still have to make the cut, and we have tournaments in strokeplay and stableford formats.

“I love it. The lockdown has been very frustrating, but I’m lucky in that I have a net and map in my garden, so I can go out and hit about 100 balls every day.

“I was at a tournament when another player said he wanted to get rid of his net – talk about being in the right place at the right time!

“But nothing beats being out on the course – I can’t wait to start playing again.”

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