74-year-old ‘blind golfer’ wins world team championship

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Linda Port and the North American Visually Impaired team have won the 2022 TPC Sawgrass Vision Cup.

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. — After a competitive golfer lost her sight, she Googled the words “blind golf” and was surprised to learn it was actually a thing. In this Zevely Zone, I visited the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club to meet a world champion. This is where I found Linda Port about to hit a golf ball she couldn’t see. Golf is one of the toughest sports in the world, especially when you’re legally blind.

“Yeah it’s harder, when you can’t see the ball it’s definitely harder,” the 74-year-old golfer said.

In 1986 Linda began to lose her central vision. “I can see everything pretty well with blurred vision like you do, which is called peripheral vision here, but if I look at your face, I can’t see your face,” Linda said.

“Left side of those trees,” said Fred Port, Linda’s husband and golf guide. “I got it, I got it,” Linda said. Fred told us, “When she turns it on and it’s time to compete, she’s there, with all the energy and brain power she brings.”

On the course, when a husband serves as your view, it can create drama. “When we started, we had husband and wife issues,” Fred said. Linda told Fred that all she needed to know was how far to hit the ball and in what direction. Fred never tells Linda when she hits a bad shot. “No, because what would that be for? said Fred.

With Linda as my golf guide, I wanted to see for myself if I could follow her instructions with my eyes closed. I kicked the ball hard and said, “It felt like it was 200 yards in the middle. Ha, ha, ha. What happened?” Linda laughed and said, “It’s still there.” I completely missed the ball.

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What makes the rest of this story even more miraculous, Linda and her fellow North American blind golfers just beat the world at the TPC Sawgrass Vision Cup. “North America won for the first time ever,” Linda said.

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is legendary, just like Linda when she parried it. “My most important message is getting kids to learn golf,” Linda said. More and more visually impaired children are playing golf. “When they hit that ball, you would have thought they had just won a million dollars,” Fred said.

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Linda says anyone can take a swing with a strong mindset. “The brain is an amazing thing,” Linda said. Her too. If you are visually impaired, Linda hopes you will consult the United States Blind Golf Association. For more information Click here.

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