PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Pro golfer Rob Strano has been giving the gift of sport through sign language for the last 10 years with a one-of-a-kind golf clinic.
As part of The Players Championship this week, Strano is teaching deaf students from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind how to swing, putt and score both on and off the greens.
"Whatever they want to be, they can do," Strano said, "and maybe one day we'll see a tour player come out of it."
Strano's clinic teaches students from FSDB how to golf on a scaled-down version of hole No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass.
"I Googled deaf golf instruction for kids, and I found no one on the planet actively teaching deaf kids how to play golf (through) sign language — and I said that's just crazy," Strano said.
With help from his teacher, 15-year-old Cody Newsome joked that when it comes to the gentlemen's sport, he's as green as the grass at The Players.
"My balance is a little off, so I have to keep practicing," Newsome said through interpreter Donna Johnson. "It's a challenge, but I'm getting better."
And it's that drive to be better and overcome adversity that is a tough lesson for both the students and coach.
"With sign language being concept-based, smooth and hard are concept-based so they don't translate correctly," Strano said. "The challenge is these concepts that we make that mean exactly the opposite to a sign language person and saying them in a correct way."
But what does translate correctly: inspiration.
"I have a feeling that some deaf players will join golf and could be a pro," Newsome said through Johnson. "You never know!"
Newsome was so excited about Tuesday's clinic, he said he's definitely adding some new golf clubs to his birthday list this year.
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