The International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) will be the sole title sponsor for ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, to be held in March, part of the movement in line with an open-ended partnership the ISPS entered into with the PGA Tour of Australasia this summer.
BMW was the joint sponsor for the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open this year, but the tournament’s title will change from next year. It will be held in The Hills, Millbrook Resort, Queenstown, from March 9 to 12.
“By holding a unique tournament in which Japanese and New Zealand golfers compete, we can have a positive influence in not only sports, but also on the economies of the two countries,” said ISPS Chairman Haruhisa Handa at Shinrinkoen Golf Club in Yorii, Saitama Prefecture, after an awards ceremony for the ISPS Handa World Blind Golf Championships that was held there.
“There will be 25 Japanese golfers (in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open) as we extended a partnership contract with the Japan Golf Tour Organization,” he added.
Ian Kennedy, former New Zealand ambassador to Japan and the special representative of Japan for New Zealand, and Michael Glading, the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open tournament director, expressed their hopes of the two countries’ bonds getting stronger through golf.
“I hope it will lead to more active human interaction not only in golf, but also other things,” Kennedy said in fluent Japanese.
Glading added, “I believe Japan is a country that has similar values as New Zealand and golf creates bonds.”
The agreement in June has made the ISPS, which organizes golf tournaments for visually impaired people and promotes the globalization of the Japanese golf industry, the naming partner of the PGA Tour of Australasia. The ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia is the elite tournament destination for professional golf in the region. Encompassing events in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific — with a total purse of around $9 million Australian dollars — all tournaments on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia carry Official World Golf Ranking points.
In addition to the World Blind Golf Championships, the ISPS held another tournament for visually impaired golfers at Shinrinkoen Golf Club.
On Nov. 8, the Blind Golf Japan Open Championship was held for the first time since 2013. Its organizer is the Japanese Blind Golf Association (JBGA), which is overseen by the International Blind Golf Association (IBGA). Handa is the honorary chairman of the JGBA and honorary president of the IBGA.
The championship’s sponsor is the ISPS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan Sports Agency, Japan Sports Association for the Disabled, Japan Golf Association, Japan Golf Tour Organization and other organizations also support the tournament.
The tournament saw 80 visually impaired golfers from 11 countries compete. The players are classified into three levels of impairment — B1, B2 and B3, with B1 being complete blindness. Guides who advise them on such things as the position of the ball, the distance to the hole and conditions of courses and greens accompany them.
The Foreign Minister Prize went to the best pre-handicap scorer, B2 Canadian Derek Kibblewhite, who carded an 82 raw score. His guide was Chris Chambers.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Prize went to the best Stableford scorer, B1 Italian Stefano Palmieri. His guide was Andrea Mencattini.
By category breakdown, the Stableford B1 champion was Palmieri, with B2 honors going to Yoshikazu Kitamura, whose guide was Tomoko Yokoyama, while the B3 winner was Sadanobu Asano, whose guide was Kumiko Asano.
On Nov. 9 and 10, the ISPS Handa World Blind Golf Championships was held at the course,marking a return to Japan for the first time in 10 years. Fifty-five visually impaired golfers from 16 countries belonging to the IBGA took part in the tournament.
The top handicap-adjusted male scorer was Toshio Karasawa, whose guide was Yoshiaki Sakai. Of the six women taking part, American Linda Port, whose guide was Fred Port, carded the top handicap-adjusted score. Port also turned in the top raw score for women.
The top raw B1 male scorer was Israeli Zohar Sharon, whose guide was Shimshon Levi, while B2 honors went to American Jeremy Poincenot, whose guide was Lionel Poincenot. The top B3 score was carded by England’s Paul Appleyard, whose guide was Neil Oxborough.
The ISPS is a nonprofit organization to promote sports, such as golf and bowling, in a belief that sports help promote world peace. It also supports blind golf as its founder and chairman Handa, dubbed the father of blind golf in Japan, is the first person in Japan to establish a blind golf club, the forerunner of the JBGA.
Handa also serves as chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, or IFAC, a nonprofit organization established to promote social welfare activities through music and art events.