MEDFORD, Ore.– A Medford-based invention is making golf a more accessible sport with help from the Walking Tall Golf Stik. On Saturday, the creator and several golfers invited those who were blind to come to the Bear Creek Golf Course to help them sink a hole in one.
Christine “Chrissy Pierce, who came out to the event, has been legally blind since she was born. After being born prematurely, she says too much oxygen caused her sight to disappear. Since then, she’s been navigating through life for 60 years and never imagined she’d be playing golf.
“I can’t believe I can swing a golf club, well it’s not a golf club but its a golf club for blind people,” said Pierce. “It’s totally awesome! I never thought I could do that!”
A member with the National Federation of the Blind, Pierce says she heard from someone in the group suggest she try Saturday’s event with the Golf Stik. After just 15 minutes of practice, it was a hit with Chrissy.
The creator Barry Robino, says the patented design is simple enough for anyone to really use.
“It really limits the movement required,” he said. “It’s just a simple swing like this and if you can do that then you can throw the ball perfectly.”
Robino says he was frustrated by the intense and challenging nature of the game and wanted to find a way for more people to come out and enjoy it.
“I want this to be for everyone, being out in nature with your friends in a beautiful place is really what it’s all about,” he said.
The stick didn’t really gain momentum though until he met visually impaired golfer Britton Munoz. Munoz, who lost his sight after years of serving in the police force, found it to be the perfect tool for others who were visually impaired or had other disabilities.
“I told Barry this would be perfect for the disabled, the wheelchair-bound, the people who have arthritis, all it is is casting a fishing pole,” he said. “If it goes fifty yards, it goes fifty yards.”
Now Barry and Britton are working to get the message around the country. Golf is for everybody.
“It just turns it into more fun recreational instead of a more intense situation that sometimes golfing can be,” said Robino.
And for Chrissy, she’s thoroughly enjoyed her first time on the green and could give her a shot at the big leagues.
“Tiger Woods look out here I come,” she said.
Both Barry and Britton are southern Oregon based. There are about 100 Walking Tall Golf Stik’s for sale right now at the Bear Creek Golf Course. They’re $95 and can be used at pretty much any golf course in Medford.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.