At the 2019 ISPS HANDA VISION CUP set at Portmarnock Links in Dublin, Ireland, Chad NeSmith is about to sink a 15-foot putt with the help of his guide, Andy Church, who snaps his fingers when the ball is lined up and ready to be putt.

My name is Chad NeSmith, and I am a professional golfer. I also happen to be completely blind. My hometown is Brentwood, Tennessee, where I practice with my golf teacher and friend, Andy Church.

I didn’t always play golf, though. When I was younger, I played football and basketball, thinking one day I would be an NFL star. Then I started to lose my vision and completely lost my sight to retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 35.

My wife was the person who insisted that I find a hobby to deal with the boredom and depression that entailed losing my vision. She challenged me to try golf. This was the point I met my caddy, coach, and now best friend, Andy Church.

What many people do not realize is the amount of sacrifice and patience it takes to guide for a blind golfer. Without my knowledge, Andy practiced his own golf game with a blindfold on for over a year to get a better understanding of the necessary techniques it takes to golf blind.

From Hobbyist to Professional and Philanthropist

After ten years of practice, I played in my first United States Blind Golf Association event. I am the 2016, 2017, and 2018 United States National Blind Golf Champion. I also won the Irish Blind Golf Open, B1 sight category, in 2017, the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic in 2018, and placed 2nd in the World Blind Golf Championship in 2018. Outside of golf, I went on to earn my bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and a doctorate degree in Psychology.

After recognizing the positive and therapeutic impact of golf on my life after vision loss, I started a 501-C3 organization called AVID, which stands for A Vision in Darkness, with my family and many supporters.

The current mission of the organization is to bring the therapeutic power of golf to blind and visually impaired young students who wish to learn the game of golf.

To learn more about Chad’s work with AVID, visit AVID.golf. And to learn more about blind golf in general – including how you can participate – visit the United States Blind Golf Association or the International Blind Golf Association.

How has blindness impacted your world?

Add your voice to #MyBlindStory. Send your entry to blog@blindnewworld.org or use our online form.