When Louie and I sat down in late September to plan a golf outing we knew we might be pushing it with the weather, but we were willing to give it a try. We thought it might be on the cooler side, but we had no idea it would snow the day before. Hardy participants braved the cold this past Saturday over at Highland National Golf Course.
I’ve been teaching golf for around 20 years and the last five years I have been having camps and clinics for kids who are blind or have visual impairments. In recent years there are overwhelming choices and options when it comes to youth sports. For kids who have visual impairments the choices can feel more limited, but that shouldn’t keep kids from trying new endeavors.
If there is something you or your child want to try, I encourage you to reach out and inquire about possible modifications or adaptations that might be made for you or your child to enjoy a certain activity. It can be very helpful to know ahead of time what type of visual impairment a child has. For anyone learning a new skill it requires developing a motor pattern. Whether you have a visual impairment or not, with the proper adaptations one can be successful if opportunities are available.
Being both a golf instructor and a teacher of the blind/visually impaired has been interesting. In a school setting our students are and should be held to similar expectations as their sighted peers, they just have to do in in a different way. They may use braille or technology, but that doesn’t stop students from learning. For students with visual impairments, sports should not be limiting, they may just need to be played slightly differently.
After spending the afternoon with Louie, the participants, and their families, it was fun to see the camaraderie that developed. We explored putting fundamentals, but more importantly the kids seemed to be having fun, trying something new and sharing an experience in a supportive and encouraging environment. We talked about being creative and the groups designed a putting course. Two of the kids were going through tunnels, around obstacles and bouncing the ball off of the wall and into the hole. Later, Louie shared some of his experiences and gave the participants a chance to ask questions. I love what Louie is doing with his mission, inspiring other kids to give it a try.
If not now, when?
Angie Ause is a certified PGA / LPGA Teaching Pro. She is also a Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired. I was lucky enough to learn a bit about golf in my early years through the First Tee program and reconnected with her recently through the Vision Programs of the St. Paul School District. She has awesome golf programs for both the sighted and the visually impaired - check it out at www.ausegolf.com.