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.
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.
Sickle, Gary V. (2006, Oct. 23). Learning Process. Si.com. Sports
Illustrated Van Sickle archives. Retrieved 20, Apr. 2008:
Strano, Rob. (2006). Rob's Teaching Philosophy and Mission….www.aslgolf.com.
Retrieved 19, April 2008:
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: