Articles About Gord
The Last Shot
May / June 2005 issue of Pacific Golf Magazine.
by Les. Wiseman
Pacific Golf May/June 2005

Gord Paynter is an amazing golfer. Sure, his scores are not up there with Tiger's or Vijay's. But then again, they are not blind. Now age 50, Paynter was diagnosed with diabetes at age seven. In his teens, the disease manifested as diabetic retinopathy, tiny blood vessels that appear behind the eyes and periodically hemorrhage. These vessels also attach themselves to the retina and pull it away from the pupil. At 22, there was a major hemorrhage and a major retinal detachment. "I liken it to trying to watch pay TV without a descrambler with a reddish pinkish fog that I was trying to see through." he says. By age 30, he was totally blind. Paynter had started golfing in Brantford, Ontario at age 11 and was known at the Northridge Public Gold Course for a terrific swing. With the onset of blindness, he gave up all sport. But at age 38, a friend took him out to a driving range and asked him if he wanted to smack a few. "It was a total disaster," he says. "I was getting nowhere near the ball." However, he felt the old yearning and started to work at it.

Now, he plays three days a week from April through November and usually puts in a fourth day on the driving range. On top of that, he is a professional comedian and a motivational speaker. Yes, he does blind jokes. But, as he says, "What's the difference between that and the fat guy going fat jokes or the woman doing female jokes?" Since he started at Toronto's Yuk Yuk's in 1984, he has performed throughout Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and did a special show in Aberdeen, Scotland, for special guest Princess Anne, who was in hysterics at his routine.

When fans told him how inspirational they found his comedy, he got himself on the motivational speaking tour. He now does both to make a living and pay his green fees.

So how does blind golf work?

I pay a caddie/guide. I never ask them to point out things other than to give me the yardage and to help square the clubface behind the ball. They don't pull the clubs for me. I don't want to know about water hazards, sand traps or trees overhanging because then they'll play into the psychology of my swing. After I've shot, they can say, "Nice, you got over the water hazard." That works best. The thing I love about the blind golf is that as soon as you strike the ball you know exactly where the problem is: you caught it fat, caught it thin, off the toe, off the heel. You're looking at your own balance, your rhythm, your speed. There's no visual distractions to focus on. So it's like a minicomputer analysis. Golf, like most things, is all about feel, so sight is not that important.

I understand you had a hole-in-one.

August 8, 1999, the 2nd hole at Northridge - 184 yards. My niece was helping me. She was 13 and had zero interest in golf. She said, "That drive looks pretty good." We were playing with a father and son and the father said, "You must be on the green." When we got there, I said, "Where's the ball?" My niece said, "it must have gone off the back." Then the father said, "You don't have to bother looking, it's here in the cup."

What's been your longest drive?

255 yards.

Most awesome putt?

41 feet

best round?

At Northridge, which is a par-72 course, I've shot 80 twice.

What is your favourite course?

Brantford Golf and Country Club. It's a very demanding tough course.

What appeals to you about golf?

I enjoy the serenity of being on a golf course. Sometimes I go to Northridge and just listen to other golfers teeing off. I'm passionate about the game. I want to play all the time. And I think about golf all the time, like when I'm on a flight or somewhere.

What do you take from the game that you use in everyday life?

Most important is that whole sense of rhythm and timing - slow it down. If it gets too quick then things go awry - not when I'm performing - just in everyday life, don't get flustered, slow it down and things will come together.

 
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