Partners help blind players 'keep their eye on the ball'
POSTED: Sunday, August 26, 2012 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, August 26, 2012 - 8:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Golf pros often advise to "keep your eye on the ball," and it comes in handy during a precision game like golf, but sometimes you just have to feel the game, and that's just what a pair of champion blind golfers are doing.
David Meador of Nashville, Tennessee has just won his third national championship with the United States Blind Golf Association.
"It's really called the ultimate team game. Each of us blind golfers has a coach, and so that coach provides that navigation," Meador said.
Right down to the placement of the club, the coaches are the eyes for blind golfers.
"I like feedback. I like to know if the ball went left or right. Sometimes I can kind of feel it, but the confirmation of eyesight helps me make the correction and hit the next shot better," Meador said.
Meador shot an impressive 102 to win over 24 other blind and visually impaired golfers who competed in a 36-hole tournament in New York earlier this month.
Jim Baker, a past champion, came in second.
Just like Meador, he lost his sight later in life.
"I have a natural swing because of it. It is kind of like the bicycle parallel, and once you learn it at a young age it becomes a bit easier," Meador said.
Now, through the USBGA, the two men are wanting to inspire a younger generation through clinics at courses like the one at Gaylord Springs in Nashville.
"You are always told when you go blind or been blind all of your life, that you can't do this and you can't do that. But we try to open things up, so people realize they can do a lot of things," Baker said.
"Their ability when it comes to shorter shots, wedges or putting on the greens - that's feel. And to tell someone to hit a ball 15 feet or 30 yards, and then they do it, that is just amazing to me," said Robb Lent, a PGA golf pro and coach.
But it's just another successful stroke of determination for these blind golfers.
Baker and Meador placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at the recent world championships against golfers from 15 countries.