PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – 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.
Special Olympics Golf, part of a worldwide sports program for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, 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.
“While this tournament is an annual event, bringing together the best Special Olympics golf teams and players from throughout North America, this year is different,” said Bob Gobrecht, President of Special Olympics North America, “Less than one year from now, New Jersey will host the United States’ best golfers, as part of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games – the most dynamic, innovative, and largest national Games to date. We thank New Jersey for its hospitality and applaud all of our athletes who are competing at the Invitational.”
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.
“Twenty-five years ago, The PGA of America began a partnership with Special Olympics to offer golf training and competition programs to children and adults with disabilities. Today, Special Olympics golf has grown tremendously and remains one of our most valued Association player development programs,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “We are pleased to work in partnership with KPMG, the USGA and the PGA Tour to again support the national tournament and know that our PGA Professionals look forward to their roles volunteering as coaches, rules officials and tournament administrators.”
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 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. The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games will feature nearly 3,500 athletes, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, competing in 16 Olympic-style sports, with the support of 1,000 coaches; 10,000 volunteers and an estimated 70,000 family, friends and spectators. For more information about the 2014 USA Games, visit www.2014specialolympics.org  and follow the Games on Facebook at Facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsUSAGames  and Twitter @2014USAGames .
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.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4.2 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org . Engage with us on:Twitter @specialolympics ; fb.com/specialolympics ; and youtube.com/specialolympicshq .