ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Every golfer has that one vision most dream of but never achieve.
Kyle Clifford’s first hole-in-one came back on September 28 on the 7th hole of Roanoke’s Brookside Par 3 course.
“I hit the ball, it looked pretty good,” he recalled. “We saw it kick on the green and I jokingly told [my friends], I said, ‘I think that just went in.’ We laughed about it, they teed off and we came up and my buddy Jason runs over and, sure enough, the ball was in the hole.”
An impressive achievement for any amateur, the circumstances leading to Clifford’s ace, though, are unlike any he could have imagined.
Just more than five weeks earlier, a spontaneous round at Blue Hills Golf Club changed his life forever.
“I got up, I swung, and before I could even get out of my follow-through, the ball hit me right in the left eye,” Clifford said.
Right away, he knew something was wrong.
“When I put my hand over my eye, there was kind of nothing there,” he said. “You couldn’t feel an eye in the socket.”
Clifford was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the same one he works at as a nurse in the intensive care unit.
But despite multiple surgeries, Clifford’s eye couldn’t be saved.
“To me, there was no point in sitting around and feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “You can’t change that the eye’s gone, but I was just ready to get back out and either start golfing or fishing or just get back to work, really.”
Less than two weeks after losing his eye, Clifford was already back on the golf course, teaming up with some friends for Brookside’s fall league.
“Our team name is 4 guys, 7 eyes,” he said, laughing.
Clifford maintains a sense of humor, knowing nothing can change what’s already happened. Acing the 7th, the same hole number where his injury occurred, made it that much more special.
With high spirits and a positive outlook, Clifford hopes others who might be overcoming a challenge and struggling to get back to what they love see him as an inspiration.
“2020 has been rough for a lot of people all across the place, and a lot of what’s happening, nobody can change or control, but the one thing you can do is you can control your attitude and you can control how you’re going to look at the situation you’re put in or the cards you’re dealt,” said Clifford. “From the get-go, I’ve been very optimistic and positive about all this and I just want to show that you can get back out and do what you want to do, you just have to have the right attitude for it.”
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