More than 180 golfers from 23 Special Olympics North America programs will compete in the 14th annual Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club in Galloway, N.J., Oct. 17-20, 2013, including two golfers from Fort Atkinson.
Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) athlete Joann Duckert will compete in the nine-hole, alternate shot with her nephew and unified golf partner, Scott Galston.
“Special Olympics is having the ability to put smiles on athletes’ faces, watch them work hard to maximize their own abilities and help them feel accomplished, whether they win or lose,” said Galston, who will also serve as the Head Coach in flag football at the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey.
Special Olympics Golf offers five levels of play for athletes with different golf abilities. An Olympic-style Opening Ceremony will tee off the event on Thursday, Oct. 17, with three competitive golf rounds played on the Stockton Seaview Pine and Bay Courses on Friday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Oct. 20. Awards ceremonies for the golf competition will take place immediately following the final round on Sunday, Oct. 20.
Special Olympics Golf allows athletes to grow in the game as they gain experience. Level I competition consists of an individual skills contest, where six golf skills are tested. Level II is an alternate shot team play, where a Special Olympics athlete is paired with a non-Special Olympics Unified partner (golfer without intellectual disability) of more advanced skill for a 9-hole competition. Level III is Special Olympics Unified Sports® team play, pairing Special Olympics and Unified partners of similar ability for an 18-hole competition. Levels IV and V are individual stroke play 9-hole and 18-hole competitions, respectively.
KPMG is the presenting sponsor of the Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament, joined by longtime tournament sponsors The PGA of America, USGA and PGA Tour.
The Special Olympics Golf program began in 1988 with the assistance of The PGA of America and USGA. Since then both associations contribute to the growth of the program with grassroots training, rules education, tournament administration and national program financial support. The PGA Tour also provides ongoing financial support to the program. PGA Tour player Padraig Harrington and LPGA Tour player I.K. Kim are global sport ambassadors for Special Olympics, helping to implement golf programs and initiatives designed to spread respect and opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities.
Currently, 50 U.S. Special Olympics Programs offer golf training and competition, and more than 18,000 athletes participate in golf competitions in Special Olympics in North America. Golf is one of 30 Olympic-style summer and winter sports offered by Special Olympics in more than 170 countries worldwide.
Next year, approximately 200 golfers from throughout the United States will compete at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, being held June 14-21, in the Princeton and Greater Mercer County area of New Jersey.
Scores, updates, and photos from the Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational will be available by visiting www.2014specialolympics.org. The Opening Ceremony, competition and medal ceremonies throughout the weekend are free and open to the public. Media interested in covering the event should apply online at www.2014specialolympics.org.