Steamboat Springs Golfer Greg Gilbertson never thought he would see this day.
For the past 13 years, he has struggled with diabetic retinopathy that has threatened to steal his vision. Thanks to a number of surgeries, Gilbertson still can see, but his vision is limited especially when it comes to seeing things that are far away.
But Gilbertson hasn’t let diabetes, a disease he has had for 32 years, keep him off the golf course.
“I’m not a very good golfer,” Gilbertson said. “But I enjoy the game, and it gets me up and moving.”
He said his vision has limited his ability to follow small objects, like a golf ball, for long distances. But most of the golfers he has played with are willing to help him locate his ball off the tee and point him in the right direction when he can’t quite make up the flag.
But few of them, including Gilbertson himself, ever dreamed the golfer could hit a hole-in-one. That was until last week.
“It was just blind luck, Gilbertson joked when asked about his shot. “Truth is that I’m pretty good at lining up, but I have a hard time making out the details or watching the flight of a ball.”
Gilbertson’s hole-in-one came Sept. 4 during the annual men’s club championship at the Steamboat Golf Club. Gilbertson used a recovery club on No. 8, a 135-yard, par-3 hole.
“Somebody said I think it went in,” Gilbertson said. “I asked, 'Where? The water?'”
Gilbertson says he plays once or twice per week in Steamboat Springs during the summer but heads to St. George, Utah, during the winter.
On Sept. 4, he was playing with Scott Stevens and Troy Breyfogle when he hit the shot of his life.
“This was the first time I played with Greg,” Stevens said. “We would just watch his ball and then guide him to where it was. He just kind of followed my voice.”
Stevens said Gilbertson was having a good day hitting the ball. He had birdied a hole earlier in his round chipping in from several feet off the green. He said Gilbertson’s shot on No. 8 proved to be noteworthy.
“The ball bounced a couple of times onto the green, and then rolled toward the hole,” Stevens said.
He said Breyfogle said he heard a click and responded by saying I think it went it.
“We hustled up to the green, and sure enough, it was in the cup,” Stevens said. “Everybody was pretty excited.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966