|Tuesday, June 19, 2001
|Local man shoots
Ray Rutherford, left, hit a hole-in-one at
the Winfield Country Club Friday with the help of his playing
partner, Leland Hopper. Rutherford, 85, is legally blind. (Shane
Disabled golfer aces 11th
hole at Winfield Country Club.
By SHANE T. FARLEY
Some might be impressed to know that
Winfield's Ray Rutherford has two holes-in-one to his credit.
Others might marvel at the fact that
Rutherford is 85 years old and got his latest hole-in-one last
week at the Winfield Country Club.
But there is something else people should
consider when weighing the man's feat: Ray Rutherford is legally
Almost a decade ago a blood vessel burst in
Rutherford's left eye. The blood that escaped clouded the vision
in that eye for good. He had been blind in his right eye since he
Rutherford can see a person five feet in
front of him but can't distinguish their facial features.
"It's like seeing shadows," he
So when he stepped to the tee at the
eleventh hole - a par three - Rutherford could barely make out
the ball at his feet and he couldn't see the green or the flag
155 yards in front of him.
For help Rutherford turned to his trusty
playing partner, Leland Hopper. When Rutherford lost his sight
and had to stop driving, it was Hopper who offered to drive him
to the golf course. They play together four or five times a week
when it isn't too hot. Hopper helps his friend take aim.
"I'll help him out and tell him where
the pin is," Hopper said, "unless he's ahead of
me." The duo wisecrack all the time, even on the course.
When Rutherford hit the ball with his five
iron, Hopper eyed it for him long enough to make sure it cleared
the water hazard. "As long as I'm not in the water I'm
happy," Rutherford said.
Hopper teed off, too, and then they headed
toward the green to find their golf balls. Rutherford looked high
and low but couldn't find his.
"Finally Leland told me to just drop a
new ball and play it," Rutherford said. "So I
When the men continued to play, Rutherford
chipped up onto the green and had a short putt left. He took aim
and put the ball in the cup. When he reached in to retrieve his
ball he found another one already there. It was the ball he had
used for his first shot.
"I thought 'Hey, a hole-in-one,'"
Rutherford said recalling his reaction.
"Yep, I saw it," Hopper said.
"It was a hole-in-one."
He was excited about the shot but said
neither he nor his partner celebrated too much.
"At my age if you get to jumping up
and down you end up on the ground," he said and laughed
wildly. He thinks his shot on 11 was "just luck."
Rutherford shot a 48 on nine holes that
day. He usually scores between 50 and 55. He and Hopper golf for
"We don't play good golf
anymore," Hopper said, "so all we have now is
Rutherford's first hole-in-one came 20
years ago just before he turned 65. He aced hole 17 at the
country club back then at a time when his vision was fine.
Between 10 and 20 people score holes-in-one
at the Winfield Country Club during an average year, said club
manager Jeanie Wyckoff. Men, women and children play thousands of
rounds each year, she said, and aces "come in spurts."
"It's really just a luck thing,"
But even with failed vision Rutherford may
have had more than just luck. He worked for several years at the
club and in 1962 became grounds superintendent. When he retired
he switched to hunting golf balls and playing golf at the course.
The layout of the course is engrained in his memory, he said, so
he can remember when he and his father - who also served as
grounds superintendent - worked the course with a horse and
When he's not golfing Rutherford spends his
time with his wife, Theora, and their four sons. Monday night the
living room at his home on Manning was full of family members who
were proud of Rutherford's latest triumph on the golf course. As
Hopper left his friend's house, the two made plans to hit the
"See ya tomorrow," Hopper asked.
"Yep, tomorrow," Rutherford
This document was last modified June 19,
2001 and is copyright © 2001 by the Winfield Publishing Co.,
Inc. All rights reserved.