Linda Port’s Journey to the U.S. Adaptive Open

July 14, 2023

By Jill Painter Lopez

Linda Port’s golf travels have taken her around the world, but her favorite tournament of them all was the U.S. Adaptive Open at Pinehurst No. 6 in July.

And it had little to do with golf at the historic venue.

That was nice, too, but she met so many wonderful people.

“It was so incredibly inspirational,” Port told the SCGA in a phone interview from Pinehurst. “No matter what you come here thinking, am I ready to compete? Can I win anything? That’s all gone. You’re so lucky to be here among the most tenacious, inspiring golfers I think in the world. These people have been through and are coping with disabilities that are amazing and they can still take on the most difficult sport in the world. And, they’re really good.”

Port - who is legally blind - shot a 102-94-92–288 over the three rounds. She may be visually impaired, but that hasn’t stopped her passion for playing the sport.

Port, 75, was diagnosed with a condition called macular degeneration that destroys her central vision. That affects a person’s ability to read, recognize people and see the golf ball.

“None of us can play alone because we could never find the ball,” Port said. “We figure out ways to do it, and we have a guide. It’s like a command sport. The athletic ability is the golfer’s but the eyes that come from the guide. And strategy.”

She usually has her husband, Fred, as her guide but this time she used a caddie for help with course knowledge. They got to play two practice rounds and her husband walked the course for her three rounds.

Port, who is from Rancho Santa Fe, was the oldest female in the competition.

“I’m so proud of that,” Port said. “I was the oldest woman by far. I’m determined to get better and keep coming back until it’s ridiculous.”

The Ports split their time in the desert and Rancho Santa Fe. They’re members at The Vintage Club and Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.

When Port was in her 30s, her eye condition started to worsen. Her father was blind and her sister, Mary Port (she’s married to Fred’s brother), has the same condition. She gave up golf for a while - “part of it was the embarrassment of playing with normal people when you can’t see the ball and you become dependent on people” - but took it up again when she was 65. She said didn’t know about blind golf until about a decade or so or she wouldn’t have quit the sport.

Port and her husband are former LACC members, too. Port watched the major from home, and she will either stand right next to the TV to watch or put a chair a couple of feet in front of it. She uses her peripheral vision. She gets along just fine with whatever she does.

Last year, she won the 2022 TPC Sawgrass Vision Cup.

The Ports have a new foundation, Blind Confidence 4 Kids, they recently started. They’re currently gathering intel on how to teach blind children the sport before they begin clinics. They’re eager to get started.

Port didn’t know about blind golf for so long and now she wants others to learn about it from a much younger age so they have the ability to play for life.

“That’s why I have my charity,” Port said. “Nobody knows about it. I’m determined that people will start knowing about it.”

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