Anyone who has played even a fair amount of golf knows the game is difficult to master and can even be cruel at times.
And that’s if you can see.
That makes what Texas County resident Gordon Evans does pretty remarkable, because he’s an avid golfer despite being legally blind. On top of that, he’s 86 years old.
“I just love getting outdoors,” Evans said, “and golf is a great way to do that.”
As a member at Houston Municipal Golf Course, Evans plays about 40 times a year. Since he can’t see much other than vague shapes in the right lighting, he needs help on the links. He gets it from his wife, Sue, who acts as a spotter, advisor and even caddy.
Sue helps “Gordy” with club selection by providing him exact yardage with a “GolfBuddy” electronic device, and then assists him in addressing the ball properly so he hits it in the right direction. Then she drives him to his next shot in a power cart.
“I don’t play,” Sue said, “but I enjoy being on the course with him.”
Gordon and Sue have been married for 61 years and have been together for 69 years after “going steady” while in high school in Minerva, Ohio.
Gordon lost his eyesight about two years ago as a combined result of macular degeneration in one eye and being kicked by a cow in the other. Shortly after his blindness set in, he was attending church with his son’s family in Ohio, and bumped into the pastor, excusing himself and explaining his sight impairment. The pastor went on to describe playing golf with a man who had a similar issue, and Evans came back to Missouri determined to play the game he first took up as a senior in high school.
“I was never very good at it,” he said. “I’d usually shoot around 100, and sometimes shoot in the mid-90s. Now I’m about a stroke per hole higher.”
“And he can’t see,” Sue said.
When visiting Ohio, Evans also often plays at Clearview Golf Club in Canton. Amazingly, he uses what little sight he has to line up his own putts.
“I’ve always been a decent putter,” Evans said. “That’s always been the best part of my game and most of the time I can do a two-putt.”
Repetition on the greens at Houston Municipal has helped.
“I can’t see them, but I’m getting used to them,” Evans said.
As a retired U.S. Navy aviator, Evans has close to 1,000 aircraft carrier landings under his belt. He grew up in a poor farming family in Ohio.
“We had no electricity until I was 14,” Evans said.
Gordon and Sue came to Texas County in September 2008 so he could start a cattle farming operation of his own, and purchased a property west of Cabool. Gordon loves to tell stories of his past and credits other people with helping him get where he is today.
“I’ve had so much help and heard many suggestions that have worked,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate and God has treated me well.”
Evans believes a person’s approach to life is extremely important.
“Life is about choices,” he said, “and attitude controls choice. You can be positive or negative, and you can give up or go. Fortunately, I was instilled with that at a very young age.
“I don’t intend to quit until God tells me to.”