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Calgary's Jones Shooting To Become World Blind-golf Champion

Calgary's Jones shooting to become world blind-golf champion

Several years back, during a tournament in B.C.’s Columbia Valley, a professional playing partner had marvelled at his confidence that day, mentioning that Jones must be certain he was splitting the fairway because he didn’t even bother to track the flight of his drives before bending over to fetch his tee.

“Trust me … ” Jones said, chuckling. “If I could see it, I’d be watching it the whole way.”

Once he launches the ball, Jones can’t follow it. The 28-year-old is legally blind.

“I like it when I’m playing with someone and for the first five or six holes, they don’t know that I’m visually impaired,” Jones said, about to start laughing again. “And then someone tells them, and they’re like, ‘What?!? Oh great, I’m getting beat by a blind guy.’ ”

Now in his third season with the maintenance crew at the Winston GC, Jones is one of Calgary’s best golf stories.

This past week, he posted the lowest gross score on the overall leaderboard at the Canadian Blind Golf Open, shooting rounds of 78 and 79 on a tight course is Truro, N.S. (Jones was tops in his B3 division, while fellow Calgarian Derek Kibblewhite won the B2 honours.)

Next month, Jones is headed to Rome to compete in the Italian Open and the World Blind Golf Championships.

As far as he knows, he has the lowest handicap in his category. That would mean he’s the guy to beat.

Jones was already a heck of a golfer before losing his eye-sight.

He was living in Mexico in his teens when his life changed in one sleep.

During a recent round with a reporter at Winston GC, where he usually tees it up four or five times a week, Jones made several birdies with ease.

In his early-20s, while working at Copper Point in Invermere, B.C., he even passed the playing ability test to become a professional, although he didn’t follow that path past the candidate-for-membership phase. (The fine folks at Copper Point continue to show their support, donating $5 from each Monday-Thursday round after 3 p.m. on their Ridge Course to help fund his tournament travels. Others have chipped in through a GoFundMe campaign.)

In his first blind-golf competition last summer, Jones had “the best round of my life” — a 4-under 68 at The Legends in Warman, Sask.

This spring, on No. 11 at Winston, he notched his first hole-in-one since his vision loss. Larsen was there to watch it drop.

Soon, Jones hopes to add world champion to his list of on-course accomplishments.

His mother, Debbie Frey, will be there in Italy to help point out targets and to track his ball.

“Just to say, for people with my vision, I could be the best in the world … that would be really cool,” Jones said. “I think the only nerve-wracking part will be that I’m expected to do well. So just try to not think about that. Just go play golf.”

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