PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fl. – After 15 years as a professional golfer, Rob Strano felt a calling to share the game he loves with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. In 2003 he took up sign language and that decision was one that changed the course of his life.
“At the end of my playing career I got injured and I was led to take up sign language, not knowing why GOD was dragging me in that direction,” said Strano. “One day after learning the language I googled golf deaf instruction and found out that there was nobody actively teaching deaf kids how to play golf in their own language.”
This revelation led Strano to become the Director of U.S. Golf Deaf Camps. In 2004 he held his first clinic in Florida and now travels around the country teaching golf to those who may have never been able to learn the game. For most of the students Strano’s clinic is the first time they’ve ever stepped on a golf course. This is the 14th year of this event at THE Players and the students learn something new every single year.
“It’s amazing that this is the 14th year we’ve had kids come through here,” said Strano. “It’s incredible to think about the first group that came through and see where they’re at now playing golf. They’re out there hitting the ball with their friends and it all started right here at this camp at THE Players.”
At the beginning of each camp it takes the students a few tries to get comfortable with learning a new sport. But once Strano sees that smile on their face he knows they’re picking things up.
“It’s amazing to see that moment when everything clicks,” said Strano. “It’s structured in a way where they learn the language. It’s there to help them learn the feelings of the swing correctly. It’s literally their own language. If I said swing plane they’ll look at the sky. So I instruct them in their own language. We have a lot of drills that give them a feel for a real swing. When the smiles come right after that’s what makes the day.”