AGAINSTan idyllic coastal backdrop, Jeremy
Poincenot launches a long iron from the eighth tee at Middle Bay CC.
During its towering flight, the shot draws dreamily toward the middle
of the fairway before settling in the short grass.
A lean 6-feet- 2, Poincenot swings with a long arc, fluid tempo and
balletic balance. And at 22, he exudes youthful vitality, with TV-star
looks and social poise. When he meets people, Poincenot confidently
looks them in the eye. Only he can’t distinguish their faces.
As a 19-year-old San Diego State sophomore in fall 2008, Poincenot lost
his central vision to a rare genetic disorder. Although the affliction spared
his peripheral vision, it rendered him legally blind and robbed him of the
independence every college kid craves. Moreover, it meant he would no
longer enjoy playing golf with his father. Or so he thought.
Poincenot instead has become one
of the world’s top visually impaired
golfers. After relearning the game in
2009, he captured the overall net title
at the 2010 World Blind Golf Championships in England, chipping in to win
a playoff. And last month he successfully defended his division title at the
United States Blind Golf Association
National Championship at Middle
Bay, a suburban New York City layout
on Long Island’s southern shore.
A Carlsbad, Calif., resident, Poincenot was one of 25 national-champi-onship entrants in three sight categories, one for totally blind golfers and
two for visually impaired players. As
with his fellow competitors, Poincenot
played with assistance from a coach,
his father Lionel. The 57-year-old product engineering manager for Callaway
Golf helps his son with alignment,
tracks ball flight and reads putts.
A 4-handicapper before losing his
sight, Poincenot routinely shoots
in the 80s now, and his best score
without central vision is 77, he says.
Most importantly, however, playing
blind golf has altered Poincenot’s
sense of purpose.
“When I first lost my sight, I only
lived to see again,” he says. “Now, I
don’t care if I see again. I can go the
rest of my life with the vision I have,
still compete in blind golf, and I’m a
The United States Blind Golf Association conducts competition in three sight categories: • B- 1 (totally blind): No light perception, or light perception that is not functional, cen- tral or peripheral, with or without light pro- jection, up to the inability to differentiate between a blank sheet of white paper and a sheet of white paper with a black symbol on it. (Note: B- 1 competitors at the USBGA National Championship are required to wear glasses with blackout material on the lenses to prevent competitor fraud.) • B- 2 (visually impaired): From the abil- ity to recognize the shape of a hand up to visual acuity of 20/600. • B- 3 (visually impaired): From visual acuity better than 20/600 up to visual acuity of worse than 20/200. All classifications are in the better eye with the best correction, and medical documenta- tion is required.
a physical therapist and computer
programmer, became president of
Braille International and immigrated
to the United States in 1982.
Bull took up golf about 15 years ago
and has been a USBGA competitor
for the last eight. Despite never having
seen a golf swing, a dogleg or a flag-stick, he shoots nine-hole scores in the
50s at home in Kalamazoo, Mich., he
says. And although he acknowledges
tournaments aren’t his forte—playing
a modified Stableford format at Middle
Bay, he finished in a two-way tie for
15th place among 16 totally blind players—he is smitten with the game.
“I don’t know what it is, but I love
it,” he says. “It’s doing something