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Augusta clinic lets blind, visually impaired practice golf

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 23, 2014, at 9:08 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 23, 2014, at 10:15 p.m.


Envision Golf Tournament

About 40 blind and visually impaired golfers were paired with mentors Monday evening to wrap up Envision's fourth annual golf clinic at Augusta Country Club.

For more info

To learn more about Envision and its programs, contact Bonnie Cochran, director of support programs, at 316-440-1510.

— Ashley Farr lined up with the golf ball, her face showing complete concentration. She swung. She missed.

“Man,” the 10-year-old said, frustrated.

Her volunteer mentor, Kyle Trebbe, switched out golf balls and helped Ashley, who is visually impaired, get better aligned in front of the tee. The second swing was a solid one, sending the ball more than 10 yards away.

Ashley was among about 30 blind and visually impaired golfers who participated Monday in the close of Envision’s summer golf clinic. With the help of about 40 volunteers, the golfers completed a nine-hole golf tournament at Augusta Country Club.

“That’s the coolest sight I see all summer,” said Bonnie Cochran, Envision’s director of support programs.

Through its research and rehabilitation centers, Envision aims to inspire and improve the quality of life of the blind and visually impaired through employment and education outreach.

Blind and visually impaired golfers at the clinic – who ranged in age from 5 to 70 – participated in golf workshops at Wichita State University’s Braeburn Golf Course earlier this month. Participants learned from the best, including U.S. Blind Golf Association champion David Meador, who taught one of the workshops.

“They’re just all smiles,” Cochran said of the golfers. “For the mentors to be working with the golfers, it’s a win-win for both of them.”

The golf tournament got its start four years ago when one of Envision’s young clients took an interest in golf lessons, Cochran said. He was legally blind, but one of the organization’s volunteers, Manuela Nivia, was a golfer.

Cochran said Nivia “got this program off and running” with the help of a few of her golfing friends.

“I think we’re all just really proud of how far our students have come,” Nivia said. “They’re all really motivated and so positive. They’re so encouraging to me, as a golfer, because they never get down on themselves.”

Ashley doesn’t like golf, she said – she loves it. Her favorite club is the driver.

“You get to swing harder” with the driver, she said. “Because I get wild and excited, I swing harder.”

Reach Shelby Reynolds at 316-268-6419 or sreynolds@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @_shelbyreynolds.

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