perceptions of what blind individuals
“It has given me a greater value
in the public eye, and a greater
feeling of value because I happen
to have this great skill that my dad
introduced me to, and that God has
given me the talent to parlay into a
bigger message,” he says.
Though golf is an individ- ual sport, blind golf is a team game. Coaches are integral to, and deeply invested in, their players’ performance.
Meador’s coach, Everett Davis, is
a 72-year-old retired banker. Before
every shot, Davis escorts Meador
from their golf cart to his ball like
a boy squiring a date to the prom.
He aligns Meador’s body toward the
target, places his clubface behind the
ball and aims it before stepping aside
so Meador can swing.
“When he hits a good shot, I’m
happy as all get out,” says Davis, who
has coached Meador for nearly 15
years. “And when he hits a bad one, I
hurt just like he does.”
The USBGA conducts competi-
tions under USGA rules modified for
disabled players. The modifications
permit blind golfers to ground their
club in hazards and receive assis-
tance and advice from a coach, who
can position himself on or close to an
extension of the line of play behind
the ball during a stroke, provided
he does not assist the player in any
other manner during the stroke.
Although the player-coach relation-
ship has similarities to a player-caddie
dynamic, a coach has responsibili-
ties that transcend a caddie’s. When
a player hits a wayward shot, for
instance, the coach must decide
whether or not the player should hit a
provisional ball. And the way a coach
aligns a player can affect a shot’s
result as much as the player’s swing.
the difference between playing golf with and without vision is drastic.
The late Payne Stewart learned as much when, in 1990, he donned a
blindfold and played nine holes in an Orlando charity pro-am with Pat
Browne Jr., the (at the time) 12-time defending U.S. Blind Golf Association national champion. Stewart shot 60, while Browne fired 42.
I got a taste of Stewart’s experience during a practice round with blind
golfer David Meador before June’s Corcoran Cup tournament at Mount
Kisco (N. Y.) CC. On the fourth hole, a 147-yard par 3, I lowered a blindfold over
my eyes and allowed Meador’s coach, Everett Davis, to escort me from my
golf cart to the tee. After Davis aligned my body to the target, placed the
head of my 8-iron behind the ball and aimed it at the green, I mindlessly
waggled, losing my aim and forcing Davis to position the clubface again.
moment. To counter the sensation, I reminded myself to keep my head still,
which seemed to help. After visualizing a lazy draw landing on the green, I
unleashed a sod special that stopped short of the fairway. From the rough,
with the “Caddyshack” mantra “Be the ball” running through my mind, I
fared much better, catching the green’s back edge with a gap wedge.
With Davis guiding me by the elbow, we paced off my par putt, a downhill 60-footer that I cozied to within seven feet. Three putts later, I finally
heard my ball rattle into the cup for a triple bogey.
Humbled by my one-hole experiment, I removed my blindfold and two
holes later sent a hybrid tee shot rattling into the trees, prompting a
well-timed needle from Meador:
“Were you wearing a blindfold on that one?” —M.C.