Teed Off
by Gord Paynter
Brantford, Ontario, Canada

You are newly blind and you're angry, frustrated and depressed. Sorry. Wait a minute. It's not the fact that you are blind that has you feeling angry, frustrated and depressed. It's your last round of golf that has brought on your miserable mood.

As a fully sighted youngster, I played golf from dawn till dusk right up until the age of 23 when I began losing my eyesight as a result of diabetes. With the loss of sight came the loss of my participation in sports, and in particular, golf.

It wasn't until I was 35, by then totally blind, that I accompanied a friend, John, out to a local driving range. After I listened to him hit balls for several minutes, he said to me, "Gord, Do you want to give it a try?"

John positioned the ball on the tee, held the club head flush behind the ball as I took my stance, and stepping back, John said, "Okay, You're good to go."

Miss after miss, the sun set and the sun rose and the misses continued. John's patience wore thin. My swing grew weary and my determination grew stronger.

"Whack," it wasn't much to look at and it wasn't much to hear, but contact had been made. More importantly, my love for the game was reborn. Golf is a tremendous game for blind people and there are blind golfers playing throughout the world. Like so many other sports, golf is about balance and feel. These are two elements that I have discovered blindness has developed to an incredibly high degree.

If you are recently blind and of a sporting nature, I urge you to give golf a try. It is essential that you find a good caddie/coach/friend to work with you. Finding the right person can take some time, but for your enjoyment of the game, a good golf partner is a must. As a word of caution, this Good Samaritan is likely not your spouse. It is kind of like when one spouse attempts to teach the other spouse how to drive, or when spouses attempt to hang wallpaper together. It is that kind of fiasco in the making.

The phrase in golf is "trust your swing." The realization of that in your game will take some time. An abundance of patience is good to take with you, whether it is to the driving range or golf course. For what it is worth, I never carried enough patience in my bag. I knew what I was capable of doing and I wanted it now, today, if not, yesterday.

I suppose my golf game was aided by my use of the white cane. Perhaps your cane, like mine, has a golf grip--a putter grip to be exact. This works well for me although now I find I walk with a slice. Good luck.


Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers:  www.ontarioblindgolf.ca  Contact: Gary Saxon:  gsaxon@cogeco.ca 

United States Blind Golf Association: www.blindgolf.com Contact: Phil Blackwell:  usbgapresident@bellsouth.net 

Gord Paynter is a blind stand-up comic, motivational speaker and avid golf nut. For more information, visit www.gordpaynter.ca.