My first experience with watching someone hit the ball and lose sight of it was when I was golfing with an almost blind man at the Dobson Ranch Golf Club in Mesa, AZ – way back in 1985.
He asked me on the first hole of the golf course if I would watch his ball.
And then he reiterated.
He said he really needed me to WATCH his ball!
I said I would.
After he hit his drive, he asked where it was on the fairway — left, right or center — and, after I made my shot, he drove his golf car to his ball. The other things I remember is that he ask me for yardages — in those days, you needed to find a sprinkler head close to where you were — the distance to the middle of the green would be marked on it — and we’d need to walk off the distance to wherever the ball was from that sprinkler head.
He also asked about the green and which quadrant the flag was positioned.
It was obvious that he had been an excellent golfer when he had good eyesight and with limited vision, he still had a great touch. This was evident when we got to the first green and with the information I’d provided he was able to put his ball next to the hole! Amazing!
I was so impressed with this gentleman and his determination to play the game he loved with his limited sight. AND how appreciative he was of the help I was able to give him. What an awe-inspiring round of golf we had and it reminded me how grateful I am to be able to play the game I love.
Sometimes when the sun is shining brightly, I lose sight of my ball when it’s in the air, about to fall to the ground. It’s amazing how different kinds of light on the golf course makes a difference to how well I can see the ball: full sun, full clouds, a mix of sun and clouds, overcast, the colour of the grass (light or dark green), the time of day.
Since asking my playing partners to act as a spotter isn’t always a practical solution, I started thinking about what I could do to make sure I can always see my ball in flight.
As I often do (since I admire her so much), I first thought about Annika Sorenstam and how she drives the ball. Annika is the only golfer I have known of who actually just swings through the ball without staying focused on the ball. I decided I may have to try that method.
And then I turned to Google again today to find out what progress has been made in golf balls designed for people with sight problems. There’s not a lot out there, really, but I did find a ball that is supposed to be easier for those with limited sight to see.
It’s called Chromax and it has a shine to it that makes it more visible. From their website, I got the phone number of the Canadian distributor and called them up and got the name of a retailer here in Calgary and off I went.
I saw what they had on the website and had decided beforehand that I’d buy a silver, a gold and a pink one to see which if any of the three are best for me to see.
The fellow at the retail store said he had tried this brand of golf balls and found them to be very playable. They’re very nice looking. I wonder if they’ll be a match for my Titleist ProV1’s — if they are, they just may be the cat’s pajamas!
Golfers often change more than one thing if something is broken and in my case, so did I. I decided to change the loft on my driver to the lowest degree possible and that did, indeed, lower the trajectory of my drives. And I put on a different pair of sunglasses than the ones I usually wear on the course — and believe it or not, between these two changes, I didn’t have any trouble tracking my drives or any other shots.
But I still had those shiny new Chromax balls to test drive, so I tried them out too. I used the pink-colored Chromax first. It was a good hit but it wasn’t quite as long as I can hit with the Titleist ball I usually play.
As for approach shots, I can’t complain. The Chromax worked well.
In fact, I tried all three colours and although they all shine, I found the gold to be the easiest to see.
I had no trouble following the balls in flight and they all putted well. And all three of them are safely back in my bag once again.
It’s nice to know that there is a solution for golfers with sight problems. The Chromax balls are both high visibility and reflective and are on the U.S.G.A. and R&A Conforming golf ball list — so you can use them in competitions. And Chromax Golf is a partner of American Blind Golf. Find out more here.