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Blind golfer with a zest for life  

Helen Keller, an American activist for the handicapped, said, “The only thing worse than
being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Boksburg’s Charlene Pienaar lost her sight at the young age of 20 – but she’s never lost her vision to excel.

The petite 29-year-old was the only blind lady golfer to participate in the 2019
Canon SA Disabled Golf Open in May, which attracted some of the best golfers
with disabilities from around the world. She triumphed, winning the trophy for the women’s section, which she also won in 2018.

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In 2016 she decided to take up golf and became a member of the South African
Disabled Golf Association (SADGA) as well as the South African Blind Golf Association
(SABGA). She joined the ERPM Golf Club in Boksburg, where you will find her
over weekends.

In the past three years she has participated in five competitions and won four trophies. Besides the two SADGA competitions, she also participated in three SABGA
competitions. This association does not have a women’s section, so Charlene had
to compete against men. She won the developmental trophy, and the next year
she won a trophy for third place.

Another big achievement is that she completed her B.Com Marketing degree
through Unisa, studying with a magnifying glass!

Charlene lost her sight in a car accident in 2000 and was devastated when the
doctors told her she had been lef t with only 10 per cent eyesight.

“I was young and still had my whole life in front of me. The accident took the wind
out of my sails! It was difficult to adapt to a lifestyle of being blind, especially the
fact that I had to depend on other people. My parents were and still are my pillar
of strength, and I thank God every day for having them in my life.

“With time I have learned that I am a strong person and that I can still conquer
many tasks – I just have to work harder at it than abled people. I have learned that
when God gives you a dream, you only need to believe … He will see to the rest ,”
she says.

Charlene works for Absa, and the bank sent her to Optima College, Pretoria, which
specialises in courses for the visually impaired and teaches them how to cope with
day-to-day chores.

Charlene took computer courses – including programming – for which
software was installed on her computer that allowed her to zoom in on the text.

Charlene has proved that she has the strength, courage and determination to live
her best possible life, and she is a fine example of how one can adapt after a
life-changing experience.

Golf Q & A

How does a blind person play golf?

A good caddie is crucial for a blind golfer. He must line up your ball with the driving iron. He must also line up my body in the right direction. I also make use of a voice caddie.

What brand of clubs do you play with?

Cobra – they feel great in my hand.

What is your handicap?

Between 24 and 30. It depends on the difficulty of the golf course and whether I have a great caddie or not.

Your preferred method of playing?

I enjoy playing betterball.

Your favourite golf course?

Komatipoort’s golf course. It’s close to the Kruger and I can hear the fish eagles.

How do you prepare yourself before a competition?

I pray for calmness and peace and to enjoy the game.

What is your golfing goal?

I would love to play overseas, but I don’t have the money to fulfil that dream yet.

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