Jim Gales MBE

Jim Gales MBE edit

What Jim Gales, MBE, from Fife doesn’t know about golf isn’t worth knowing about. Jim, who is 47 years old and suffers from Retinitis pigmentosa(RP) is the Chairman of Scottish Disability Golf Partnership

The SDGP, which now organises more golf and golf training than any other group, has more than 130 members and actively encourages anyone of any age with a disability or serious health problem and their sighted coaches to participate in the game.

Jim, with his sighted guide, Paul Shephard, began playing golf in 1991.
He now takes part in tournaments around the world travelling afar as Japan, Australia and America. Jim says: “Paul checks my tee-off position then paints a picture for me with words to describe the course ahead. Thankfully this doesn’t include bunkers or water hazards!” Jim was awarded his MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for Services to Sport at Holyroodhouse.

Jim currently plays off a handicap of 29 but adding to his sporting prowess has recently taken up the challenge of ice curling. In March 2011 he took part in the 39th Annual Western Blind Curling Championship in Winnipeg, Canada. Walking off the plane he was hit by the eye-watering temperature of minus 41 degrees. He was pleased when it finally warmed up to a balmy minus 18 degees: the same temperature as the coldest night of the UK’s 2010 freezing spell.

A baker and confectioner by profession, sport now takes up most of his time but he also enjoys reading history books. Jim says:

“When I was in my teens I was an avid reader of any kind of books but stopped reading so much when my sight deteriorated. Since being introduced to Calibre I have begun to read more titles using my Victor Reader Stream. Having Calibre’s easily accessible website to hand is a great service and to be able to browse their library for new titles and authors, who you would not ordinarily be aware of, is a big bonus to anyone with a sight problem”.

 Jim hopes that the SDGP will continue to grow steadily and attract more disabled people to the sport, while working closely with golf’s Governing Bodies and many Scottish Golf Clubs. He first held a club after his sight began to disappear, so says that having never played before should not be a barrier to playing golf.

Zeb is Jim's fourth Guide Dog and is his first cross Labrador/Retriever, the previous three being Labradors. Zeb, who qualified in 2010, in the middle of Scotland's worst winter for many years, has settled into a good working routine for such a young dog. Fingers crossed!!