Program tees up fun experience for Washington State School for t - KPTV - FOX 12

Program tees up fun experience for Washington State School for the Blind students

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The big dark storm system looming over the region makes it seem like it’s not a great time to golf, but some smiling faces from Vancouver's Washington State School for the Blind still made their way to Colwood Golf Center in north Portland, enjoying the game and life with the First Tee of Greater Portland.

“You'd think that golf wouldn't necessarily relate to blind children, but you see the look on their faces and how excited they get, just like any other child, they want to be kids,” First Tee’s Anthony Congi said. “They want to try new things, they want to have fun with their friends, they want to do things that excite them. They can do that here.”

While some of the students have not had great experiences with some sports in the past, they are finding fun on the links.

“It's an experience in a way of, I normally wouldn't do things like sports and such just because balls have proven to not be my friends over and over again,” 15-year-old Abby Burhman told FOX 12. “It's not a big ball. It's on the ground, not in your face."

Gabe Pizzo said he has the sense of how the pros get it done but added he has his own tricks of the trade.

“I just love shooting lots of holes-in-one. The secret to get lots of holes-in-one is you want to hit it really softly and listen really closely,” he said. “When you hear that noise, that means you got a hole-in-one.”

Without vision, these golfers rely on touch, feel and sound.

“With us blind people, we have audio guys. Like, ‘OK, let me show you how to do it.’ And then they’ll show you,” 16-year-old Husai Sanchez said of the instructors. “Then it’s like, ‘Feel the tee so you know where the ball is going to be. Get down and grab the ball because you are going to have to do that. When that ball gets out, just bend down and get a ball that is available.’”

Part of their trips to Colwood Golf Center centers around the nine core values of the first tee.

“Honesty, independence, courtesy, confidence, sportsmanship, perseverance, responsibility, respect and judgment,” Sanchez shared. “All of these values really affect how you play the game and how you are treating the course.”

The program is helping the students learn life lessons through golf lessons.

“It's taught me that when things don't always go according to plan or if you are struggling, don't give up and keep on trying because then you will get it,” 16-year-old Tristan Freckleton explained.

To learn more about the outreach programs at First Tee of Greater Portland, visit their website at

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