What can a blind golfer teach you about your golf game? A key component to success!
The golf swing is more about rhythm, tempo, and timing than it is about having a stick and smacking a ball. The approach of smacking the ball makes it challenging to be consistent. A more effective strategy is to develop a consistent movement pattern rather than relying on hand-eye coordination. Blind people play golf, which proves that you don’t have to see the ball to make contact. Jake Olson is a blind golfer who dreams of playing on the PGA Tour.
Let me tell you about Jake. He was born with a rare form of eye cancer called retinoblastoma. Before he was a year old, he had lost his left eye to cancer. He fought the disease for twelve years, going through chemotherapy each time it returned. But his doctors ultimately had to take out his right eye. Jake became completely blind at twelve years old.
Before he lost his sight, he played golf and football. After he went blind, Jake wanted to play football so badly that he asked himself what position he could play that wouldn’t require him to see. Remember, in Chapter 1, when we talked about asking quality questions? Jake found the answer—he could be a long snapper. When he first started, he was not very good at all. The coach put him on the team but thought there was no way Jake could play. Jake then asked the coach what he could do to improve. Jake didn’t lament about what he could no longer do. He listened to his coach and worked so hard he became a starter.
“Brokenness doesn’t exist in the body. It exists in the mind, body, and spirit. Mine remains whole!” Jake said.
As for golf, his goal is to be the first blind golfer on the PGA Tour. He says, “Since I’ve become blind, I see better than ever what my true potential can be.” Jake is the author of the book Open Your Eyes: 10 Uncommon Lessons to Discover a Happier Life. We can learn so much from this courageous young man.
Jake is able to play golf because the golf ball is not moving, so it doesn’t require hand-eye coordination. Playing well does require him to trust his golf swing and create a repeatable move. As I watched his swing, I noticed how he used his big muscles, making it easy to be consistent. He used his upper back and shoulders in his backswing, and he used his legs, glutes, and core at the top of his swing all the way to the finish. Jake has a consistent swing.
Practice chipping with your eyes closed. Move your upper back and shoulders in harmony and allow your club to swing like a pendulum back and through. The clubhead will swing through the ball and make solid contact, if you let it. If you struggle to make contact, you are relying too much on hand-eye coordination to hit the golf ball. Keep practicing! Focus on how your body and the club feels instead of ball and trying to hit it. Learn from Jake and improve your game!
An excerpt from the book Golf Postive! Live Positive! by Debbie O'Connell