Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blind golf is better than no golf...

Change in the practise routine this last fortnight instead of me hitting the balls, I was watching them for a mate of mine who is blinded by Stargart disease. His eyesight deteriorated over past years and up until last season was still playing golf off a 14 handicap. Previously he had been down to 3 handicap and a past club champion. A very competent golfer, this year he decided to not renew his membership for several reasons, one being he was not enjoying playing competition golf. His right eye is blind and the left has partial vision and as long as there is somebody to watch the ball in the air he can hit the white blur at his feet that is the ball reasonably well. A month or so ago he contacted Blind Golf SA after hearing about the World Cup of Blind Golf success by Australia. He has decided to have a crack at the game again as a blind golfer and see how far he can go, nationally at the least. His personal goal is to get back to a 3 handicap. Since then he has set up his practise net and been hitting a hundred plus balls a day with the 8 iron only. The first time on the range and after hitting 80 balls the results were good. 75% were in a 25 metre wide grouping at 130 metres. The ball striking is okay the hardest thing is the mental golf thoughts. He still hits the ball with the expectation of a 3 handicapper with sight and has to rationalise that with not being able to see where the ball goes. That is the nub of the frustration,in a way it is about dumbing down the thoughts and have some one else tell you where the ball has gone, then adjust your next shot. Perhaps not the most precise explanation, yet I think most readers could visualise what this means. You are blind folded and over one eye was a small pin prick you could see the ball through. Then you start hitting the balls to the target area and somebody tells you the result how would you go? Out again Thursday with him for the latest session we have made some major changes. It is all to do with the mindset of golf, not his technique. All small things which are a hindrance to a golfer without sight are just as much part of the game for the blind. First was his over use of the hands, As a quality golfer in the past the 'feel' of the swing and contact with the ball has been causing him to over compensate/react. His game was based around a slight draw as the base shot. What was happening with the sight loss was the draw went from 1-2 metres to 15-20 metres. This was all from relying upon the'feel' during the swing and his hands are much more sensitive now and doing too much. This was corrected by playing all the shots from the same spot, putting the ball at the beginning of the divot for each shot. The resulting 'snake' from the divots is straight and more importantly we have established the two shots that are the standard at the minute. within a 15 metre arc there is the slight draw of 1-3 metres and a straight push to the right of 1-12 metres. At this stage the time schedule is another six months of practise before playing competition golf again. Not that my blind mate could not return to golfing right now. It is the need to adjust his game from playing with a sighted attitude to the blind game style that is now required. What is interesting is the amount of golfing drills that involve golfers to practise with their eyes closed or not looking at the ball. This is very helpful in analysing what is required to play golf with out full sight and the various game facets which need to be focused on in preparation. Thankyou for your time and attention, Geoff

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