Blind Golfer Sees Life through Rose-Colored Glasses

David Meador follows through on his golf shot as his coach Everett Davis watches behind him. Meador, a Christ the King parishioner in Nashville, Tenn., is one of the top blind golfers in the nation.

By Ned Andrew Solomon

This article first appeared in The Tennessee Register.

Christ the King parishioner, and championship golfer, David Meador, got his first taste of the green at eight years old, in his hometown of Salem, Illinois. He picked up the game and his appreciation of the sport from his dad. “I loved the ball,” said Meador. “Just seeing it explode off the club in those early years was something deeper than just the beautiful golf course, and the camaraderie.”

The young Meador’s game steadily improved, but in 1966 at age 18, Meador was in a car wreck and lost his eyesight. Six weeks later he was, in his own words, “going nowhere, sitting on the couch, watching TV,” and worrying about what his new world had in store. Then his father had an idea.

The two got in the car and drove to the golf course. The elder Meador set his son in place, described the distance to the hole, selected the right club for the shot, and let the boy swing. Meador was able to connect with the ball, and reconnect with the pastime he was convinced he’d left behind forever. “My father got me back into the game, in so many senses of the word,” Meador said.

What his father did that day was pretty much what “coaches” do for Meador, and other blind players, today. Unbeknownst to Meador and his dad, coaching in this manner had already been in existence for about 15 years.

Golfing blind sounds nearly impossible to a sighted person, but having a stationary ball – unlike in most other sports – helps. As Meador explained it, “all I have to do is be responsible for my balance, tempo, and returning the club to where it started.”

The Meador “team” practiced regularly, joined the United States Blind Golfers Association and went to their first official blind golf tournament in 1974. “It was an eye-opener to see all of these blind golfers, some of which were phenomenal,” recalled Meador.

One in particular, Pat Browne, proved to be a real inspiration for the young Meador. One of the top three blind golfers of the time, Browne had lost his sight in a car accident the same year as Meador.

Blind golfer sees life through rose-colored glasses

David Meador, right, and Everett Davis are partners on the golf course. Davis acts as the coach for Meador, who is blind. Meador, a Christ the King parishioner in Nashville, Tenn., is a past blind golfing national champion.

He was coached by his dad until 1976, when Meadors moved to Tennessee. There he found his second coach, a 16-year-old, Brentwood High student named Stuart Smith. That team trained during the week and played against sighted golfers on the weekend. “Because it’s kind of hard to get up a foursome of blind golfers,” laughed Meador.

The following year they went together to their first USBGA national tournament and Meador won – beating Pat Browne in the playoff. Although Meador has won several other tournaments since then – including the national Guiding Eyes Classic tournament in 2005 and 2009 with his current coach, retired banker, Everett Davis – the 1977 win has proven to be his only USBGA national championship – so far. “We’ve finished second several times,” said Meador. “That darn Pat Browne!”

But there’s so much more to Meador’s story than golf. It’s one of perseverance, even in the darkest times, and continual adaptation. Meador learned Braille very quickly, and figured out how to navigate his universe with a white cane. “The white cane has literally, and figuratively, connected me with the world,” said Meador. “Without it, you really know what blindness is. Thanks to the white cane I didn’t have to sit on that couch the rest of my life.”

In fact, he’s done little sitting still at all. Meador went on to college and a business degree at Southern Illinois University, where he met his wife of 33 years, Connie. He received his graduate degree in personnel and industrial relations from Loyola University in Chicago. Meador worked in the insurance field in Chicago for several years, until the couple decided to move to a warmer climate, and chose Nashville for their new home.

Meador spent the next five years with Metro Government, working in the personnel department. The following 18 years he sold insurance for Northwestern Mutual Life. About 10 years ago, disillusionment with and changes in the industry pushed Meador into a new career, as a motivational speaker and writer.

Although Meador was convinced his accident and subsequent blindness was an automatic “exemption from other biggies”, he has had to endure two other serious health challenges. At age 24, Meador contracted Hodgkin’s disease – a form of cancer – and underwent an intensive chemotherapy program for four years. Although he survived that round, Meador was diagnosed with colon cancer a few years back. Thankfully, his chemotherapy only lasted 12 months this time, but the end result was the removal of part of his colon and a frustrating, daily drain on his energy.

Throughout all this, Meador has relied heavily on his strong faith. He and Connie have been actively involved with Christ the King Church since moving to Nashville, and they consider the parish “the anchor” in their lives. Their two daughters, now grown, were both raised with Catholic educations at St. Bernard’s and St. Cecilia’s. His two grandchildren currently attend Christ the King School.

Despite many life obstacles, Meador has kept a stubbornly positive outlook. Most times he views his blindness as an advantage, allowing him to disregard distractions that might have slipped him up, like the water traps on the golf course he never has to see, or get anxious about. “It’s totally a skewed view,” said Meador. “My wife accuses me with good reason of looking at life through rose-colored glasses. I don’t see the beer bottles on the side of the road – they’re all just paved in gold.”

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