Blind golfer Drummond has sights set on good tourney

Posted: September 25, 2007

Sheila Drummond never realized how one golf shot could turn her life inside out.

On Aug. 19 at Mahoning Valley Country Club in Lehighton, she hit a driver on the fourth hole, which was playing 144 yards. She didn't see the ball go in the hole, but she heard it hit the flagstick.

Nothing but cup.

And in the span of seconds, she became what is believed to be the first blind female player to make an ace.

"I had no idea what it would turn into," Drummond said. "The next day, my phone started ringing. And it didn't stop. I'm still getting calls, from all over the world. It's been unbelievable.

"I'll even be out somewhere and these people come up and start talking to me. I'll say, 'Who are you?' They saw me on TV, or read about me in the paper. They want to know if they can shake my hand. I'm like, 'Sure, but who are you?' I guess it's like being a movie star. It's hectic, but you get used to it . . .

"People think you have to be a great player [to do what I did]. But I'm not. I'm a lucky player."

Drummond, a Lehighton native, lost her sight 26 years ago, at 27, from diabetes. She took up the game in 1992. Two years later, her husband Keith joined her. And became her coach. Which, for a blind golfer, is everything.

Today and tomorrow, Drummond will compete in the 62nd U.S. Blind Golf Association national championship at Delaware County's Edgmont Country Club, which hosted a "Hope for the Blind" international tournament 40 years ago. Drummond's also the event director, which means . . .

"I will not play well," she acknowledged. "And I know that. Just because there's too much going on, and I'm a hyper person to begin with. I'll try to do my best, but I'll probably be in a fog most of the time, trying to make sure everything else is getting take care of."

Drummond plays in a handful of such events each year. She's never won, but she's finished as high as fifth. And she must compete against women and men.

Thirty-nine people are in this field, in three eye-sight classifications.

"Some of these guys are good," she said. "One was a scratch golfer who had a car accident. He's shot in the 70s. My best score was a 106, at Mahoning.

"I play about a hundred rounds a year. This is our big one. I've been working on it for a year, because I'm the closest [competitor] to Philly. So I'm excited. But I know how much goes into [running] it."

Whatever happens in the next 2 days, she'll always have her moment. Especially the appearance on "Good Morning America," which included a limo ride to New York.

"The whole thing was wild and crazy," Drummond said. "You have to enjoy it while you can.

"I just don't know if I'd want to go through it again." *

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