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Blind golfer ready to challenge the world
Standing on the first tee at Harbour View Golf Course, Victor Goetz points his left-handed 8-iron at his target, takes a practice swing and smoothly launches the ball into the air. As it begins its descent, the gusting wind pushes it just right of the green, and it lands pin-high on a small hill.
A crisp, compact chip sends the ball bouncing down the hill, and it rolls onto the green, coming to rest six inches short of the hole. Goetz taps it in for a routine par.
Not bad considering it’s the first hole he’s played after leaving his clubs untouched all winter. And not bad considering Goetz has less than 5% vision in both his eyes.
The North Kildonan resident can see a ball resting on a tee and can make out the hole when standing over a short putt, but he relies on his coach, Juergen Werner, to guide him around the course.
The duo first teamed up last summer at the Canadian Blind Open in Truro, N.S., where Goetz finished ninth out of 33 entrants with a 36-hole score of 223. (He was fourth in the B2 division for golfers with 0 to 5% sight.)
"Juergen will line me up, help me with my set-up, tell me whether I have an open or closed club or stance, and describe the shot to me," Goetz said.
Werner’s pre-shot descriptions get more and more specific as they get closer to the hole—he’ll read the green and give a precise distance measurement to Goetz on putts, chips and pitches.
"I like to remind him about his tempo," said Werner, who ran the Winnipeg School Division’s golf league for years when he taught at St. John’s High School. "I want Vic to use the same tempo no matter what club he uses."
Werner will also give instant feedback to Goetz after contact, so that he can feel the shot’s outcome in his hands.
"When it’s a sweet hit, I can feel that it was perfect," Goetz said. "There’s a tingling in my fingertips."
Goetz started playing golf in the mid-1970s when he was in his twenties as a way to spend some time with his father.
"I was just hacking it around for fun," he said.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s that Goetz began entering tournaments, and experiencing his fair share of success. He’s won several Manitoba titles and captured the Western Canadian championship in 2004.
"All the rules are just like playing on tour," Goetz said. "The only difference is we’re allowed to ground our club in bunkers."
This year, in addition to the Manitoba and Western Canadian championships, he’s planning a return visit to Truro, where, thanks to his showing last year, he’ll play in the Canadian and world championships.
The trip is going to cost $4,000 for the golfer and his coach, and they’re looking for sponsors to shoulder some of the expense. Goetz can be reached at 667-6808.
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(1 of 14 articles for this week)05/15/2013 1:00 AM 0
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