It’s just about time for most golfers in the northern US to begin our trek to the golf course. For some it is exercise, others it’s recreation, and some may even win a few amateur tournaments, but it is the special individuals who play on the Professional Golf Association’s(PGA) tour. Playing “the tour” takes time, hard work, and diligence to develop a great swing as well as fairway and putting skills. Most of us will be delegated to being “average golfers” for a lifetime, but enjoy the game and the social interactions it brings.
Here’s a story about a young man who is truly unique and destined for a special place on the PGA tour. Kevin Hall is one of professional golf’s best, most overlooked stories. Kevin has relentlessly pursued the dream of winning on the PGA Tour. More than just a golfer, Kevin is a role model looking to inspire others through his journey.
Kevin Miles Hall was born in 1982 to Percy and Jackie Hall and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Like other two year-olds, he was a happy and curious child, until an unfortunate bout with Haemophilus influenzae (H-Flu) bacteria. Until 1985, when there was a vaccine discovered for the H-Flu, it was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis or Haemophilus meningitis. Treating meningitis at that time was primarily to save the life of the child and sometimes aminoglycosides were given for that purpose. Usually the choice for persistent meningitis, Gentamycin is a well known ototoxic medication. Approximately 11% of the population receiving this medication experience damage to the inner ear that results in irreversible hearing loss.
In his story, Kevin discusses his hearing loss, “I was 2 1/2 years old when I contacted H-flu meningitis. My diagnosis was imminent death, or life as a vegetable. Somehow through the grace of God I survived and the only thing I lost was my hearing. I was fortunate otherwise to be a normal child, but I had gained a new course in life. Through prayer, faith, hard work, and the love and support of my parents, I was able to overcome this loss and not allow it to be used as a handicap or prevent me from doing what I wanted to do in my life.”
Most clinicians that work with deaf and hard of hearing children know that the best component of a successful childhood is the parents and it takes commitment, hard work and lots of love to mold any child into productive adult and much more involved when the child is hearing impaired. After what must have been considerable thought and discussion his parents decided to enroll him at the St. Rita School for the Deaf just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio as well as other mainstream programs. Between studying, speech therapy and other activities where he excelled in his studies and other sports, he also became a very good bowler carrying an average score of 205. In recent interviews the other golfers in tournaments describe his bowling skills as exceptional.
Kevin Describes his beginnings in golf, “One day when I was 9 years old, a family friend Sonny Barnes handed me a golf club and introduced me to the game of golf. I gripped the club, took a look at the golfers around me on the driving range and swung for the first time. Feeling the sweet sensation of perfect contact and watching the ball take flight told me everything I needed to know. I practiced every day. I absorbed everything about golf I could get my hands on and sure enough I continued to get better each and every day. I wanted to earn a college scholarship to play golf, so I did everything I could to become the best player in Cincinnati my senior year of high school. My hard work earned me a scholarship to the Ohio State University and the distinction of being the first deaf African-American in the storied program’s history. I got better every year and it culminated with winning the Big Ten Championship by 11 strokes in 2004. I graduated in 2005 with a journalism degree.”
According to Beall (2018), Hall has spent 14 years chasing it: membership on the PGA Tour. He has enjoyed a handful of starts on tour during his career, but has mostly toiled in the sport’s minors, venturing into the wilderness of provincial tours where you carry your own bag and are often chased off the course by the men’s 45-and-older Thursday beer league. Golf’s graveyard is filled with tales of former prodigies, yet Hall’s story has a different tone. His transcends what happens inside the ropes.
Kevin says of himself, “People will always see me as deaf and black; I don’t think people will see me as just another golfer. It just won’t happen. That’s my story. I guess it will always be my story.” For the first time in his career he has stature on the 2018 Web.com Tour. Reaching the PGA Tour is no longer a dream he will get his chance at the big stage!
For those that do not know, there is a World Deaf Golf Federation. Founded in Battle Creek, Michigan July 13, 1994; its purpose is to bring all the nations together for sportsmanship and friendship in Deaf Golf. WDGC 2018 will take place from July 21 to 28 at the Carton House Golf Club Kildare, Ireland. If interested check out the link.
Beall, J. (2018).Kevin Hall, the tour’s first deaf golfer, is not giving up on his chase. Golf World. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
Centers for Disease Control (2018). Haemophilus influenza. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
Hall, Kevin (2018). Kevin Hall: Golf Professional. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
World Health Organization (2018). Bacterial meningitis. Retrieved March 27, 2018.