One in five Americans has a disability. More than almost any other sport, golf provides exceptional recreational, competitive and rehabilitative opportunities for those with disabilities.
With the belief that golf can enrich and empower people of all abilities, the USGA supports programs that serve blind golfers, amputee golfers and individuals with developmental challenges. For some of the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities, golf has the power to change lives.
Carlos Ramirez wasn’t able to watch his putt on the first hole, but he had the same lament as many typical golfers.
“Sometimes I hit it too hard, the next shot I leave it too short,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez is one of 20 members of the golf team at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. Ramirez was born in Mexico and has been unable to see since birth. He moved to Colorado at age 2.
Considered an excellent student with a particularly keen sense of humor, Ramirez was determined to learn to play golf.
“A lot of people think totally blind people can’t get out on the golf course and play golf,” Ramirez said. “I learned how to play mini-golf when I was a little kid, and I wanted to learn how to play real golf. I got interested and I signed up for it.”
Since 1997, the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind Golf Team has operated with the help of USGA funding and the support of USGA Fellows, who volunteer to help Ramirez and others with the intricate process that each stroke entails.
For each shot, Ramirez receives help lining up his feet by putting his toes on his cane. A volunteer then aligns his club with the ball before he swings. For Ramirez the game is not always about making birdies. It’s the simple pleasure of golf that makes the experience enjoyable.
“I know I may not hit the ball so well on every shot,” Ramirez said. “It doesn’t matter too much to me, though. It’s so much fun to get out of the dorm and experience the great weather.”
Ramirez plans to attend a local university after he graduates. While not sure exactly what he wants to do for a career, Carlos envisions himself starting a small business with some of his classmates.