Golf and love are not two words that I often say together. Ugh as a matter of fact just saying “golf” stresses me out. I know, I know the big fans of the game say it’s relaxing and it’s fun and it’s great for networking and blah blah blah. Not me. I am more like Ted Knight in Caddyshack when he gets all frustrated and throws the golf club. I can barely make it through a session at the driving range let alone the chip and putt or the actual course!
My boys, however, LOVE golf. Michael (16) and Mitchell (13) can’t see the course and they can’t see the ball (If you are new here, they are blind). But their lack of vision hasn’t held them back from trying any sport, and as their sports options have diminished over the years, golf has risen to the top of the list of sports they can still play, and play very well.
Although we have done some crazy stuff in our house with my blind and sighted kiddos, we did not just walk onto the golf course and give it a swing. My guys actually learned golf with a group called Middle Atlantic Blind Golfers Association. Michael and Mitchell are in the Junior program. At the outings and skill building events they are each paired up with a sighted coach that not only has to teach them and build upon the fundamentals of the sport, the blind golfers rely heavily on the coach’s description of the hole, where the ball is, the surrounding area, etc.
Since I am not a golfer, I had quite a few reservations when my guys started the program, and you might be wondering the same things I was: How would they hit the ball? How are they going to enjoy spending all day walking all over a course they cannot see? Are they really going to learn the sport or is this just going to be a time filler as other sports fade away? I can’t believe I ever had any reservations.
First of all, I don’t know who coined the phrase “older and wiser” because I feel like the older I get the more things I actually don’t know, so I am often in “research mode”. Understanding how blind guys golf was no exception. So years ago when we first started tossing around the idea of golf for Michael and Mitchell, I scoured the internet for articles about this and chatted with lots of golfers. I heard from a few folks that some pros like to blindfold the golfers they coach to have them focus on their swing. Interesting. At the same time I was “conducting my research” my oldest son, Michael, was in elementary school and had chosen a new book to read called The Million Dollar Putt by Dan Gutman. Back then I would often read the same books my kids were reading so we could discuss them. I was so fortunate to read that book because it is about a young blind boy that takes up golf!
Fast forward to now and golf has given my boys an opportunity to learn and improve at a sport that so many people enjoy. When they are out on the course with the blind golfing program, or at the local golf camp, and even participating in our annual golf outing, they open other people’s eyes to the fact that blind people can accomplish the same things as sighted people, they just tend to approach things a little differently.
And finally, a bonus perk of golf: although Michael is sixteen and cannot go for what most teens dream of, the driver’s license, he does get to take a turn at the wheel of the golf cart with his Dad coaching. Watch him:
So yes, I actually do love golf for all that the sport offers my boys. But don’t expect to see me out on the course anytime soon – well, unless there is a golf cart race, in which case I’ll be all in!