A few weeks ago my husband, Hamza, got a rather unusual request. A new friend, a student at the school where we teach English had heard that my husband was a golfer, and wanted some help getting started with the game. The friend, Sa’id, is a Physical Therapist, he’s had a thriving practice for the last 14 years not far from the school. He’s married and has 2 children. He’s traveled quite a bit and studied P.T. in Tunisia. Now he’s interested in golf. Oh yeah, and he’s blind.
My husband was very intrigued, immediately all kinds of questions came to mind. Are there other blind golfers? Yes, there is a whole association in the US, but nothing in our part of the world. Do they have special equipment? No, just lots of coaching and getting a feel for the game. In a game that relies so much visual gaging, how could it even be possible without sight? Well, Sa’id was used to having such challenges thrown at him, and he was more than eager to get started.
We met him at the golf course, kids in tow. It was the first time my kids had met a blind person, and my 4-year old son kept saying “look, look at this”, and “watch me!”. Sa’id replied “I see nothing, only darkness” with the biggest smile on his face.
I sat and watched, completely blown away, as they started practicing putting. Hamza had to guide Sa’id over to the putting green, had him feel the grass with his shoe, “it’s much smoother over here”. Then Said felt the putter. He felt the little flag that marks the hole. Next Hamza explained a lot of things about grip, back swing, stance, etc. He is a patient and observing teacher as well as a good golfer, so he knew how to get Said to feel it. He oriented Sa’id in the right direction and told him how far the hole was, about 3 meters. Sa’id putted a few times, each time Hamza would tell him how far the ball had gone. 2 meters, now 4 meters… Each time Sa’id would adjust based on the information he received. After about 5 tries, the ball went straight in the hole. Sa’id heard it rattle and the biggest smile flashed across his face. It was miraculous. I had tears in my eyes. The whole experience felt barely real. Golfers are usually a bit blase, but a few of them couldn’t help but watch.
Sa’id rode back into town with us, and he graciously let us pepper him with questions about being blind. He lost his sight at age 7 to a disease that damaged his optical nerves. He still remembers everything he saw before that, even most faces, but he said “I’ve been told things have changed a lot in Marrakech”. He can’t sense light or darkness, but he can still tell if it’s night or day. He had a lot of trouble when he first opened his practice in convincing people that a blind person can heal them. But now he has a practice comparable to any seeing therapist.
And he also said this “It doesn’t matter if the eye can see or not, the eye is merely a camera that captures images and sends them to your brain. It matters only if your heart can see, that’s much more important”. And he said “Will is the key, some people have problems and they just sit and cry and pity themselves. Others have a strong will and find ways to do what they want to do”.
We have no excuses my friends!