Shari Roeseler is so grateful and appreciative for all the support that the Morton Golf Foundation provides for Society For The Blind and the organization’s youth golf program.
Grants from the Morton Golf Foundation, founded in 2010, enable Society For The Blind to put on golf clinics for children and youth who are blind or have low vision, according to Shari Roeseler, the organization’s Executive Director.
“Morton Golf Foundation has given us grants for the last several years to help fund these golf clinics,” said Roeseler.
“The whole point is to introduce children as well as their parents and their sighted siblings to golf. If the parents are golfers it helps them know that you can still golf with your child regardless of whether they can see.”
A few years ago, Society For The Blind a 5,000 square-foot undeveloped space in their center where they put on indoor golf clinics. The clinics, available to youth age 8 through high school, are designed to be offered both indoors and at area golf courses like the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex and William Land Golf Course, facilities that are led by Morton Golf Management.
The nine-hole William Land Golf Course, located at William Land Park, is the home of First Tee – Greater Sacramento.
The 36-hole Haggin Oaks Golf Complex features the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course, Arcade Creek Course, Haggin Oaks driving range and learning center, Player Performance Studio, Haggin Oaks Academy Holes, and MacKenzie Putting Course.
“Those two in particular are really nice,” Roeseler said of Haggin Oaks and William Land. “They host a blind adults golf group.”
Society For The Blind puts on two or three clinics each year, helping those who are blind with instruction in golf – everything from how to correctly hold a golf club to set-up, stance and swing.
“As it relates specifically to Morton Golf Foundation, it is a grant for youths to be exposed to and to learn golf,” said Roeseler.
“We’re an educational and training center. The hope is that the kids will go out and and learn the game of golf and discover another activity that is accessible for those with vision loss.
“As far as the adults who play golf, they do that independently of Society. Many of them are either current or former students. They are now mentors to some of our new students.”
Society for The Blind is one of many nonprofit organizations that Morton Golf Foundation helps out.
“We are grateful to the Morton Foundation for the support and the funding,” said Roeseler. “They have continued to support our efforts to bring children and youth who are blind and low vision out to learn and play the game of golf.
“In our clinics, we involve the whole family, so that everyone in the family learns that they can enjoy this sport together.”
Society for The Blind has a theme: “Get out, get active. Golf does just that. I think golf is a wonderful way to do that,” said Roeseler.
“What golf teaches us are the life lessons, the camaraderie, the teamwork. All of that just helps these children grow in confidence. It shows them that the sky’s the limit, regardless of whether you have eyesight or not.
According to its website, societyfortheblind.org, Society for The Blind is a “full-service nonprofit agency providing services and programs for people who are blind or have low vision. Serving 27 counties in Northern California, Society for The Blind is located in Midtown Sacramento and has been serving our community for more than 65 years.”
Society for The Blind was established in 1954 as a private nonprofit community benefit organization “and has continued to expand our programs and services to meet the needs of the community we serve,” its website points out.
“From humble grass roots efforts, we have transformed Society for The Blind into a nationally recognized agency and the only rehabilitative teaching center for a 27 county region of Northern California for people who are blind or low vision.
“While the original intent of the founders of Society for The Blind was to provide a congregating space for people in the Sacramento area who were blind, today’s vision includes providing life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for thousands of youth, adults and seniors in Sacramento and the surrounding areas experiencing vision loss.
“Each year over 5,000 individuals participate in our programs and services through classes at our teaching center, in-home training sessions and community workshops,” the organization’s website reports.
Society for The Blind provides training for children through seniors in how to do everything non-visually. “We teach white cane travel. We teach Braille. We also teach independent living skills, and so we have programs designed for each age cohort. We have youth programs, working age adult, and then senior lifestyle. We serve about 6,000 people a year,” said Roeseler.
“Society for the Blind is committed to providing expert, state-of-the-art education and vision healthcare that enables those in our community affected by vision loss to live life to its fullest.”
In addition to its educational programming, Society for the Blind promotes sports and recreation, health and fitness for their clients. “
“We know how important playing sports is,” said Roeseler. “It’s the teamwork and the confidence it builds. Golf is one of those wonderful sports where there’s an individual confidence building. You learn a lot about etiquette. You learn a lot of skills, honesty. It’s a wonderful sport to introduce kids to and get them to play.”
One of the golf instructors for the clinics is Billy Davis, who is a United States Association of Blind Athletes gold medalist in golf. “As a blind athlete, Billy is a mentor, coach and role model. The children and are learning from someone who is like them. It’s just phenomenal. A great, great role model and inspiration,” said Roeseler.
The United States Association of Blind Athletes, based in Colorado Springs, was founded in 1976 “with the purpose of improving the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired,” according to its website, www.usaba.org.
It’s a national organization “that provides sports opportunities to thousands of children, youth, adults and veterans who are blind and visually impaired.”
Society for The Blind is a blindness training rehabilitation center, with the organization teaching children through seniors how to do everything non-visually.
“We teach white cane travel. We teach Braille. We also teach independent living skills, and so we have programs designed for each age cohort. We have youth programs, working age adult, and then senior lifestyle. We serve about 6,000 people a year,” said Roeseler.
The initial vision of the Morton Golf Foundation, according to mortongolffoundation.org, “was to research and help supplement needy programs within the Sacramento Region that open up the game of golf to people from all walks of life.
“Today, the Morton Golf Foundation is helping better the lives of several kids programs, disabled programs and hundreds of underserved individuals each and every year.”
For more information about Society For The Blind is available at the organization’s website, societyfortheblind.org, or by calling (916) 452-8271.
* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.