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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.