Thursday's opening ceremonies tee off Special Olympics Golf National Invitational

PGA of America

Series: PGA Feature

Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | 10:02 a.m.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nearly 500 Special Olympics athletes, coaches, volunteers, plus PGA of America and United States Golf Association (USGA) officials and city representatives will gather on Thursday, Sept. 22, for Opening Ceremonies of the 12th Annual Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Similar to the Olympics, 177 golfers representing 21 U.S. states, plus Bermuda and Canada, will march in by delegation; a presentation of colors will be staged; a Florida Special Olympics athlete will sing the national anthem; golfers will recite the Special Olympics oath; and the Special Olympics cauldron will be lit. Opening Ceremonies will take place at the PGA Center for Golf Learning & Performance on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to at 8:00 p.m.


To return to our complete coverage of the 2011 Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament, click here.

The 12th edition of the annual Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament returns to PGA Golf Club for the sixth time in the history of event. Golfers will compete Friday through Sunday, Sept. 23-25, in one of five levels of competition on the award-winning Ryder and Wanamaker Courses. Medal ceremonies will take place immediately following the final round on Sunday, Sept. 25, beginning at 12:00 p.m. through approximately 3:00 p.m.

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. Special Olympics golf 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 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.

Tournament competitors also will be able to participate in a Play Golf America Clinic featuring PGA Honorary Member Dennis Walters on Friday, Sept. 23, at 2:30 p.m., and a PGA Sports Academy Skills Contest on Saturday, Sept. 24, also at 2:30 p.m. Both events will be held at PGA Golf Club. Additionally, this year's tournament will be staged over Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day on Saturday, Sept. 24, when Special Olympics programs worldwide celebrate the movement's founder.

The PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA are presenting sponsors of the national tournament; KPMG is a Special Olympics sponsor of the event.

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 and PGA Tour Player Padraig Harrington is a Special Olympics global ambassador for the international sports program, helping to implement golf programs and initiatives designed to spread respect for people with intellectual disabilities.

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 3.7 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 now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world from World and Regional events to community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood's backyard. 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 Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics;;; and

About Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day
The 2011 Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day, September 24, is an opportunity to celebrate the impact that one dedicated, energetic individual can have on the world. Become an agent of acceptance and action throughout the world. Embrace the spirit of Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day and "Play Unified to Live Unified." Visit to learn about the life and impact of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. For more information, visit

About PGA Village
The Ryder, Wanamaker, and Dye Courses form a trio of world-class courses at PGA Golf Club, at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Named by Golf Digest as one of the "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America," PGA Village also features the award-winning, 35-acre PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance and the PGA Museum of Golf. PGA Golf Club exists to be one of the premier public-access resort facilities in America, complete with a Private Members Club, and serves as the home club for our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals. For more information, please visit