The sun was warm, but the spray blowing off the Pacific sent a
chillier message: Don't hook it, Tom. I took a deep breath and
listened to the magnificent 18th hole at Pebble Beach.
If you know me as the blind golfer in the Callaway ads, you know
that I am forced, or privileged, to play golf with four senses.
Do you use as many? Do you love the echo of a well-struck iron
shot on a tree-lined fairway? Do you absorb the scent of
fresh-cut grass? Do you taste the game--the cheeseburger at the
turn, the beer at the 19th hole? I do. But other players often
talk about me as if I were an inanimate object: "How's he ever
going to hit it?" Fortunately, I have learned to take matters
into my own hands. I practice at midnight.
Like many of you, I have tried every apparatus designed to pull,
turn or twist my body for better golf. I have listened to
videotapes by Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus, and finally gotten
good enough to shoot in the 90s that day at Pebble Beach. At the
18th I hit my drive down the middle. Seeing the result wasn't
necessary. My hands recorded the information. My ears confirmed
it. I reached the green in four on that great par-5, and I
didn't need my caddie to read the green for me. My feet told me
everything as I walked from the ball to the hole. The putt was
downhill, downgrain, a slippery 15-footer with eight inches of
break. I kept my mind's metronome ticking at a smooth 65 beats
per minute and made a stroke that was smooth as butter. It took
4 1/2 seconds for the ball to reach the hole. I listened for it
to hit the bottom of the cup, but there was only the sound of
the waves. The ball had slipped by.
Where's my happy ending? Here it is: Golf allows me to transcend
my disability and enjoy my abilities--including my ability to be
as frustrated as any of you by the most humbling game of all.
May 10, 1998
Sullivan hosts a May 11 event at Riviera to benefit blind