YOU KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL:

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH GOLF

                            

                      by Gord Paynter

                                       

 

     Forty‑eight ‑‑ an age?  Forty‑eight, a failing grade?  

Or forty‑eight, the projected value of our Canadian dollar?

Possibly.  But, in this case, "48" refers to my best score

for nine holes of golf.

 

     Granted, it's no Tiger Woods.  But pretty damn good for

a 43‑year‑old passionate about the game and playing without

his sight.

 

     At 22, I began losing my eyesight as a result of

complications from diabetes.  With that came a loss of

drive, desire, and dreams ‑‑ dreams of career, of sports

and, in particular, of golf.

 

     The acceptance of my new blind state was slow, but

eventually I found myself back doing chores, and

participating in games and events.  I was not aware that I

was growing and accepting my environment.

 

     One day I tagged along with a friend to a driving

range.  Smack!  His driver connected with the little white

ball.  The sound stirred feelings deep within me.

 

     My friend must have sensed my keenness, because he

asked me if I wanted to hit a few.  We fidgeted about 'til

he had me all lined up, club squared behind the ball and no

longer aimed towards the parking lot.  "Swoosh!"  I missed.

Not once, but several times.

 

     Even if you're not a golfer, you've heard the phrase,

"keep your eye on the ball."  Eliminate the "eye" part from

the equation, and this simple task becomes more difficult!

However, with perseverance and the moon rising, contact was

made, the sound sweet and the feeling through the club shaft

exhilarating.

 

     "Where'd she go?"

 

     "About 240 yards, dead straight."

 

     "Now the truth."

 

     "Ah, just over there....Should I get it?"

    

     And with that, the love affair was rekindled.

 

     As a blind golfer, I need to orchestrate my games and

companions to caddy‑slash‑assist well in advance.  Sometimes

I enlist a friend or a junior member...a niece...a mother...

somebody...ANYBODY!  Anybody willing to trudge a course and

endure the occasional curse.  And while many golfers carry

their clubs around in the trunk of a car, mine are often

found in the trunk of a cab.

 

     Days when I can find no companion or cab fare, I am

reduced to taking a five‑iron to the back yard and swing,

swing, swing away.  Feel my stance.  Check my grip, my

balance and swing.

 

     Chomp!  Another clump of sod sails off into the blue

sky.

 

     I wish my wife Catherine shared my love for golf.  She

encourages me to play and tolerates my long absences on

those days.  For this, I am grateful.  But she neither

thrills with me after a good round nor understands my

frustration over a lousy outing.  Even today I can hear her

words echoing, "I don't know why you play if it's going to

make you so angry.  I thought this was supposed to be fun."

 

     Only a non‑golfer would make a silly statement like

that.

 

     Only a golfer would respond, "I do love it. That's why

I hate it."

 

     Catherine was the first to see that my addiction to the

game was complete when I overruled her decision not to get

the additional cable channels.  "What?!" I exploded.  "No

golf channel?"

 

     To Catherine, the channel is "stupid."  She says this

as she flips to The Y & R.

 

     In the cold winter months, I nestle into my easy chair

and switch on the golf channel.  Tournament play from sunny,

hot Australia and, later, putting tips.  Ahh, but life is

good.

 

     I'm tempted to clear a patch of snow from the back yard

and swing, swing, swing.....and dream of forty‑eights.

 

     Gord Paynter is based in Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

He tours as a motivational speaker and stand‑up comic.  For

booking information, call (519) 758‑0236.