The "jaw-dropping" holes-in-one occurred on various golf courses in Kentucky and Oregon during the period Sept. 10-16 by USBGA members Ty Thompson of Lexington, Ky.; Ron Plath of Portland (Lake Oswego), Oregon; and Kevin Edwards of Springville, Tenn.
(Photo: Blind golfer Ron Plath)
"Whether it's out West or down South, people say it's mostly luck," said USBGA President Jim Baker. "But surely something greater is going on with these and other members of organized blind golf. To see this happen to three fellow members within one week is simply amazing."
Lexington's Ty Thompson, a golfer with little usable vision, hit his hole-in-one at the Peninsula Golf Resort in Lancaster, Ky., on Sept. 10. Thompson's impaired vision now causes him to see the ball only as a peanut-shaped object.
"I told my sighted coach and the rest of the foursome, 'Okay, I know you say it went in, but I'm not going to get excited until we get up to the green and verify it,'" Thompson said with a laugh.
Sure enough, 145 yards later, Thompson's 9-iron shot sat comfortably in the hole.
USBGA member and International Blind Golf Association representative Ron Plath of Portland struck his own good luck the following day. Having been given alignment help by a member of his threesome, Plath hit his gap wedge to a short secondary green (one that is used only when the more distant carpet is under repair or being given a rest from regular play). But being a short hole of only 85 yards at the Stone Creek course in Portland doesn't mean it's an easy one.
"The green is nearly surrounded by water and offers no flat surface whatsoever," Plath noted. "Its extreme slope makes it almost impossible to keep the ball on the green from the tee."
Seeing the ball roll slowly "side-hill" until it at last hit the pin and dropped, Plath's friends yelled out their joy and delight in unison. Plath, who can barely see the ball at all over every shot, let alone the fairway, said in disbelief, "I thought they must be telling the truth," and they were.
As if two blind golfer holes-in-one weren't already enough, a third "jaw-dropper" came just five days later at the USBGA Kentucky Bluegrass Regional at the Golf Course of the Blue Grass in Lexington. While competing there, sight-impaired member Kevin Edwards of Springville, Tenn., capped off his first-day of play with an ace of his own. It came at the eighth hole from 154 yards out.
"When I am addressing the ball, I see both the ball and the club," Edwards said. "But once I swing, I never see the ball in the air. As usual, my wife Anna lined me up to hit the center of the green. The ball landed, and they said it rolled straight to the pin just like a putt. After what seemed like forever, people started yelling and celebrating. This was my second one to fall. I had no idea I would ever be playing like this."
"We definitely believe something else besides luck is going on," said USBGA past president David Meador. "This shows that a blind or vision-impaired golfer can do anything if he or she gets involved with the game of golf. The value of accomplishment and team spirit has no limits."
The United States Blind Golf Association was founded in 1953 by blind golfer and lawyer Bob Allman. The organization, which is run by an elected board from its membership, sponsors two regional tournaments and a National Championship each year. These tournaments offer the opportunity for very friendly, but very competitive golf for the members who compete for trophies and the thrill of achieving success in an activity they enjoy. The goal is not only to play competitive golf with other blind and vision-impaired golfers, but also to encourage people with sight loss to participate with family and friends in "this crazy game we call golf." The USBGA also holds more than a dozen clinics for blind and vision-impaired children through its junior blind golf program. Its Hall of Fame annually honors legendary players and contributing organizations.
For more information about the USBGA, visit http://www.USBlindGolf.com.
(Photos: Blind golfers Kevin Edwards (top) and Ty Thompson)