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Blind golf champion hitting the links for the Lions

When the sun illuminates the links on Friday June 9, there will be one golfer on the greens who will be able to get the ball in the hole while not seeing the course.

Gerry Nelson is the current Blind Canadian and U.S. golf champion. He will be on the course at Rolling Greens on Friday to demonstrate his handicap as the Lloydminster Lions host their annual golf classic.

“Blind golf is my life and everything that I’ve done is because of blind golf. The Lions whose tournament we are attending have been the primary sponsors up until this point. So, it’s just a way to personally come and say thank you to the Lions,” says Nelson.

The Meadow Lake resident has had Diabetes since he was six-years old. However, he says in his late teens and early twenties he did not look after his Diabetes. When he was 25, he was on a flight to Vancouver when his eyesight deteriorated, and he had to go to hospital. Doctors tried to repair his retinas, but that did not work.

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Even though technology has been improved in the last five decades for persons with Diabetes, Nelson sees the importance of the mindset, especially for young people and teens to manage the illness and the lifestyle.

“Even back in the late 60s and early-70s, without the technology, if I had decided that I was going to look after myself – absolutely I could have. But I just thought I am going to ignore it and I won’t have to worry about it, and obviously that didn’t work out so well for me,” says Nelson.

The golf champion is now totally blind, but he fully credits the support of the Lions, who have swung the club for blind golfing in Canada for some 75 years, with getting him to where he is today.

To succeed at blind golf, Nelson says a buddy coaches and guides him, but he chooses the club and that’s where his guide gives him some room.

“Well blind golf is played very much like how a regular sighted person would play. However, my coach or guide sets me up to the ball, we’ve discussed the yardage, I pick the club I want to use to hit the ball, he sets me up stationary to the ball, he backs up and gets out of the way and I hit it. And then we jump in the cart and go do it all over again.”

Nelson grew up in North Battleford, went to university in Saskatoon, started working with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, now called CNIB and took up golf in the 1990s with the help of a Lion.

Funds raised from this year’s tournament will be used by the Lloydminster Lions as they are setting up programming to support teens and young people dealing with Diabetes.

Registration is 11:00 a.m. with a burger lunch. A shotgun start is pegged for 1:30 p.m. and supper and prizes will wrap up from 4:30 p.m., with Nelson scheduled to share more details about his life.

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