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Deaf Golf:
Are there benefits to silence on the green?
 

Also see: The Deaf Community and Golf

 

Sean Johnson
4/29/2008

 

Deaf Golfers


I wanted to take a look at the inspirations and opportunities of Deaf golfers. While researching this topic, I asked myself a couple questions, if I were deaf would I be a better golfer? Could you be so zoned into your swing and shot that swinging the golf club would be a breeze? It seems to me that if you couldn’t hear all the distraction and everything else going on around you would you be able to focus more. It would be so much easier to swing if you couldn’t hear anything.

 

Immediately I wanted to know if there was anyone on the PGA tour that was Deaf. So I went ahead and searched for anyone on the PGA tour that was "hearing impaired." To my surprise the answer was zero. At this time the only known professional deaf golfer trying to make the PGA tour is 25-year-old Kevin Hall from Cincinnati, OH.  Kevin, who recently won his first professional tournament on the Hooters Pro Golf Tour, has been deaf since the age of 2. Kevin, during his interview by Dewayne Wickham of USA TODAY, said exactly what I was thinking: “It is easier for deaf people to get into their own little world on the golf course. Hearing people have to deal with distractions, airplanes, birds and people talking loudly. Hearing people rely on sound (of club striking the ball) for feed back, but golf is mainly a feel game.”

Being a fellow golfer, I know just how difficult it can be to concentrate on the golf course with all the things Kevin just mentioned. While one could think that Kevin must be doing very well as pro, he and his father, Percy, spend a lot of their own money without having the luxury of a sponsor’s exemption (Wickham, 2008). So Kevin and Percy drive from tournament to tournament chasing the PGA tour dream. Kevin, an Ohio State University graduate with a degree in journalism, earned a total of $23,470 in 2007. Kevin’s first and only win this year earned him a grand total of $11,909. The lack of prize money and the time he and his father spend away from home doesn’t discourage Kevin. “I will continue to do this until there is evidence that I definitely don’t have the game to make it to the (PGA) tour,” he told Dewayne Wickham of USA TODAY. Kevin should be an inspiration to the deaf community, and should motivate more people to teach Deaf and Hard of Hearing young people the game of golf.


There should be more people like Rob Strano. Rob is the lead instructor for the United States Deaf Golf Camps (Sickle, 2006). Mr. Strano struggled on the PGA tour for about 15 years (Sickle, 2006) before he decided to take American Sign Language 1,2,3,4,5, Finger Spelling, and ASL Conversation at Okaloosa Walton College and Gallaudet University. During his camps, Rob apparently does something similar to my ASL instructor at Sacramento State, William Vicars, communicate and entertain while signing. Rob also uses photos and visual training devices to help Deaf and Hard of Hearing people get the necessary tools to learn the game of golf from a professional. As Rob, states on his web site, www.aslgolf.com, “with ASL GOLF the player gets the information necessary to improve in Sign Language direct from the professional.” Rob Strano also echoes my thoughts: “Deaf kids are more focused” (Strano, www.aslgolf.com/media.html).


So, to answer my own question as to would I be a better golfer if I were deaf: The answer is yes. Yes, but I would need the heart of Kevin Hall and the tutelage of Rob Strano.
 

References:

Sickle, Gary V. (2006, Oct. 23). Learning Process. Si.com. Sports Illustrated Van Sickle archives. Retrieved 20, Apr. 2008:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/gary_van_sickle/10/23/inside.golf/1.html

Strano, Rob. (2006). Rob’s Teaching Philosophy and Mission….www.aslgolf.com. Retrieved 19, April 2008:
www.aslgolf.com/programs.htm.

Wickham, DeWayne. (2008, Jan. 22) Deaf golfer’s drive for life is a story worth hearing. USA TODAY. Forum commentary, People-Forum, Sports, Misc. -Forum Retrieved 18, April 2008:
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/01/deaf-golfers-dr.html
 


 


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