Cliff Aaron is a Seeing Eye graduate, a lawyer, and a golfer. And last week, he won a “closest to the pin” contest at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) of New Jersey annual golf tournament fundraiser for The Seeing Eye. The tournament was held at Ballyowen Country Club in Hamburg.
“It was an amazingly lucky shot,” Cliff said. “It was a 175-yard par 3, and I left it five feet, six inches from the pin. You could give me a hundred shots and I couldn’t do that again.”
So how does a blind person play golf?
“The answer in my case is not very well,” Cliff joked.
“In all seriousness I’m a better golfer as a blind person than I was when I was sighted. That’s not a joke. I was always a terrible golfer. Like most people I had the problem of picking my head up to admire my shot before I’d even hit it. Now what am I going to look at? So I keep my head down and I hit it much straighter,” he said.
“My drives are OK. The middle part of my game is the problem. But once I get on the green I’m all right – I can putt pretty well,” he said. “Honestly, I putt better than most. My secret is I walk from the hole to the ball. The eyes lie, but your feet never deceive you. It’s the best way to read the break and the incline.”
Cliff said it also helps to have a good caddie. “He’ll tell me the distance, the terrain, and he’ll line me up. Then it’s just muscle memory. If I hit it well, I know it will go straight.”
He tells his caddies not to tell him about any obstacles or hazards.
“I don’t want to know. Just line me up so a straight shot puts me in the middle of the fairway,” he said. ”So much of golf is psychological. Don’t tell me what’s out there – in my mind, it’s all wide open and sloping downhill.”
Cliff, a partner at New York law firm London Fischer, was matched with his first Seeing Eye dog in 2006. He returned in 2013 to be matched with his second, a yellow Labrador/golden retriever cross named Ford. The photo shows Cliff, smiling, with his arm around Ford, who is looking attentively at the photographer.
Cliff said he usually leaves Ford at home when he’s golfing.
“The golf course is the one place he can’t help me,” he said. “He’s an amazing dog. He’s incredible. I just can’t imagine life without him.”