Next week, a roster of 179 golfers from 39 states will compete at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games in Lincoln, Neb., July 18-23. Golf is one of 13 competitive sports at the USA National Games where nearly 3,000 Special Olympics athletes from across the United States will compete in the largest multi-sport event in the history of Nebraska and one of the largest multi-sport events in the United States during 2010.
Special Olympics golf is part of the worldwide Special Olympics sports movement for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics golfers and Unified partners (for team play), ranging in age from 13- to 73-years old, will compete in one of five levels of competition at the Mahoney Golf Course and Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln.
Olympic-style Opening Ceremonies will be held July 18 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Three competitive golf rounds will be played July 19-21 with awards ceremonies for the golf competition taking place immediately following the final round on July 21.
Special Olympics golf offers five levels of competition for athletes of all abilities. Level I is 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 partner of more advanced skill for a 9-hole competition. Level III is 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. Competition for Levels I, III & V will take place at Highlands Golf Course, while Level II & IV competitors will play at Mahoney Golf Course.
Having supported the growth of and development of Special Olympics Golf since it began in 1988, The PGA of America and USGA are providing assistance at the USA National Games with rules officials, tournament administration, and course setup, in addition to financial contributions.
"We are very thankful for all of the assistance from The PGA of America and USGA," said Charles Cooper, CEO and President of the Games. "Without their valuable contributions, this event would not be possible during the week of the Games."
Additionally, The PGA of America and the Nebraska PGA Section will host a Play Golf America Experience – a complimentary clinic for all Special Olympics athletes and spectators featuring PGA Professional expert instruction – on Monday, July 19, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., at the Special Olympics Sports Experience within Special Olympics Town at the Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln. Just prior to the clinic on July 19, PGA of America Honorary President Brian Whitcomb will present a formal PGA of America proclamation of support to Special Olympics North America at 4:00 p.m. on the Fan Fest stage of Special Olympics Town.
Nebraska Section PGA Professionals will volunteer throughout practice and competitive rounds. During the July 18 practice round, Nebraska Section PGA Professionals will volunteer with final preparations and instruction advice for golfers and, during the three-round golf competition, nearly 30 Nebraska PGA Professionals will volunteer their time as rules officials and tournament operators.