By Pamela Dozois

Zaca Creek Golf Course and the Olde School Golf School will host the 18th annual California Blind and Disabled Golf Classic (CBDGC) in December, honoring its founder, the late Howard Shaw. Click here BlindGolfFlyer for more information about the event. 

The tournament honoring Shaw, a beloved member of the blind golf community and the founder of the nonprofit American Blind Golf Association, will be held on the weekend of Dec. 6-8 at Zaca Creek Golf Course in Buellton.

The event is open to “anyone with any limitation,” according to Bob Kotowski, a PGA pro and organizer of the classic for the past 28 years.

The tournament at the little the par-3 course has attracted people from across the nation as well as Canada, Great Britain and Spain.

Contestants are partnered with professional and amateur golfers for a variety of pre-tournament games and challenges, followed by Saturday’s main event, an 18-hole medal play tournament. Two dinners, a Santa Ynez Style barbecue and an awards banquet, are scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights.

Kotowski has been a PGA professional for 37 years and has been with the CBDGC for 28 years, focusing on instruction and especially helping those with disabilities, both physical and developmental.

According to Kotowski, the pre-tournament games and challenges provide insights into blind golfers and offer an opportunity to explore the feel, timing, rhythm, and routine aspects of the game. In the Short Game Challenge, blindfolded participants will have a coach help them in a putting and chipping competition.

“Here, we eliminate overthinking. Your only option is to trust what you feel, and that’s what playing good golf is all about,” said Kotowski.

 “I want to encourage people to participate in the CBDGC event, whether it be playing or as a spectator, to come out in support of people with disabilities,” Kotowski said.

 “For me, it is incredibly interesting and rewarding to be a part of a program that shares this experience, and it gives me great satisfaction to know we are all in this together and we can help others to enjoy a great quality of life. It’s ‘activity’ that adds to that quality of life,” explained Kotowski. “It’s inspiring to be around these individuals who meet challenges every day and overcome them. The energy is so positive.”

Past players and those scheduled to attend include defending champion Bruce Petersen; women’s champion Adelade Ortega; world ranked number one, Bill Davis; Canadian and U.S. Open Champion Brian McCleod; and Canadian women’s champ Mary Blair. Also participating are PGA Pros Tracy Bowles, Joe Grohman and Dave Hartley (Alisal Ranch Golf Course).

“I also want to encourage people who have perhaps given up the game to take advantage of what Zaca Creek Golf Course has to offer along with our ‘Back to Golf’ program, which encourages and supports people to engage in this great activity again,” said Kotowski, who also works at the golf shop and teaches the game as well.

“It is a place for people who have suffered catastrophic injury, strokes, or degenerative disease, even those in wheelchairs, to come and have fun and enjoy the challenge of the game and the social aspects of golf. Everything is free of charge to every disabled person. We provide everything for a wonderful day at the golf course,” he continued.

“Zaca Creek is a fabulous venue to make that happen and a great place for any golfer to enjoy the game, as it is a scaled-down golf course placing a premium on accuracy and experience. It does not require the time or length of a full size golf course,” he explained. And where can you golf all day for $20?”

“Bob’s tireless efforts to promote this program has enabled young boys and girls to be a part of this wonderful activity and be accepted for their individuality,” said Bobette McClelan, golf course manager.

 “Bob is just an incredible Renaissance man, multi-talented, with a heart that never stops giving. He cares tremendously about kids, disabled people, or anyone he meets. His warmth and positivity are such a welcome gift in this confusing world. He makes a big difference in the lives of many people. He is a multifaceted guy,” said Jeanne Chambers, a volunteer at Zaca Creek Golf Course.

“Mike and Mac Brown have done a fabulous job of recovering the golf course and making it a fun place for the community. Eight years ago these 67 acres were just overgrown chaparral, and they turned it into a recreational paradise,” said Kotowski.

“I’ve played at golf courses all over Southern California, both private and public, and I always come back here because it’s the best – the camaraderie, the people, make it so great and Bob does a great job here with the kids,” said Michael Gowing, a golfer and supporter of the CBDGC.

The $135 entrance fee for the tournament includes three days of unlimited golf; participation in the event’s games, challenges, and tournament; and dinner both nights. Assistance with accommodations is available upon request.

Anyone wishing to participate or support the event in any capacity can contact Kotowski through his website,