Minnesota golfer qualifies for second-straight state tourney despite vision in just one eye

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Golf is a sport which requires a number of wide ranging skills; hand eye coordination, strength, endurance, mental toughness and, as much as anything else, depth perception. For most, judging a ball's distance from a club and a hole is one of the more natural parts of the game, at least relatively speaking.

St. Anthony Village golfer Katie Wortman — St. Anthony Village High School
St. Anthony Village golfer Katie Wortman — St. Anthony Village High School

That couldn't be farther from the truth for Katie Wortman, a state-qualified golfer who is blind in her left eye.

Wortman, who stars for the St. Anthony Village (Minn.) High golf squad, has qualified for the state tournament in both of her first two seasons of high school golf. She's done so by incorporating a variety of innovative techniques to help overcome her visual shortcomings.

As noted by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the most unique of Wortman's adaptations comes on each hole when she lines up to put. Rather than a traditional putting stance, Wortman has to approach the ball with a completely open stance, lining up behind the ball with her hands far in front of her body. The reason for her stance is simple: It's the only way she can get an accurate sight of the ball with her right eye.

For Wortman, the key to success has been relieving herself of the stress that often follows high school match play golf. The sophomore said she reached a stage of burnout this season before refocusing on just having fun while on a round.

"The key word is try," Wortman told the Star-Tribune. "It's hard because it's competitive. At the end of the day it's really about playing the holes, but you really want to outperform the other girls."

The St. Anthony Village star will head out to the state tournament for the second straight season on Tuesday with hopes of an even better result than her initial campaign. Regardless of how that goes, Wortman has plenty more prestigious golf to play this summer, including a spot at the Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy during the first week in July, an opportunity the teen called "game-changing.

Interestingly, that's exactly what many others might say about her accomplishments for those who have serious visual impairments.

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