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� 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.