GREEN VALLEY — An 85-year-old legally blind golfer from southern Arizona has pulled off his first-ever hole-in-one.
Robert Dunham’s feat came earlier this week on the par 3 third hole at the Tortuga course in Green Valley. Playing with a group of fellow blind veterans enrolled in a Veterans Affairs health care system program, Dunham’s volunteer assistant lined him up with the ball, handed him a 9-iron and stepped back.
Dunham swung through the ball, hit it squarely and it landed softly on the green, taking one hop before nestling into the bottom of the cup.
Dunham’s group erupted into a cacophony of cheers and high-fives.
The World War II vet’s first reaction?
“I thought they were kidding me,” Dunham said with a chuckle. “I told them, ‘You guys better not be pulling my leg.”‘
The retired Honeywell manager began losing his vision about 10 years ago, but has been in the VA program for only three weeks.
Rehabilitation specialist Milo Borich said the hospital began the golf program about seven years ago to help keep patients active and rid the word “impossible” from their vernacular.
“It’s a great way for our patients to get outside, get some exercise and get to know one another,” Borich said. “Every once in a while, something amazing happens.”
Dunham recorded his hole-in-one with a hand-me-down Ryder Cup brand punch iron with a dull club face and worn-down grip.
Borich said the program relies on donations, but that the hospital is hoping to secure a deal with a club manufacturer.
“Just imagine what Bob could’ve done with a better club,” Borich said.