“It’s very different:” ‘Shot in the Dark’ golf tournament serves as fundraiser for visually impaired

Shot in the Dark

MILWAUKEE -- "Trust your swing" is something commonly said to golfers as they play a round. In this case, it has a deeper meaning.

"My dad, my brother and I have had the same tee time at a golf course every Saturday morning for the last 20 years," Rob Buettner said.

Consistency is key to success in the game of golf.

Shot in the Dark

Rob Buettner

"I play with people that I trust that make sure that I'm not pointing in the wrong direction," Buettner said.

That's important for Buettner and his golf game, as it has had to evolve over the years.

"I've been golfing since I was nine years old. In my mid-20s, I experienced a vision loss from a recessive eye condition called stargardt macular dystrophy. One of my biggest fears is I wouldn't be able to play golf, and really through learning from other people, you know, having a great family to support me, did learn that I could continue to play golf," Buettner said.

FOX6 News caught up with Buettner, his dad, his mom and his brother at Silver Spring Golf Course during an event called "Shot in the Dark."

Shot in the Dark

Shot in the Dark

"We'll tee off in the light at about 6:15 or 6:30. The first couple of holes is in the light, so it's normal play. About the third fairway, it gets dark, and then it's kind of hysterical because everybody is getting their cell phone out, and we finish the last six or so holes in the dark. People have a blast because it's very different," Jim Kerlin, CEO and president of Beyond Vision said.

Shot in the Dark

Shot in the Dark is a tournament for sighted golfers and those with visual impairments. It also serves as a fundraiser for Beyond Vision and Vision Foward.

"We're going to have an opportunity for people to wear goggles that simulate the different types of blindness and come out here on the putting green and see what it's like to have no central vision or no peripheral vision and just hit a simple putt -- and it's quite a challenge. So it gives them a small taste of what it's like to have the challenge of visual impairment, but also to understand that people who are blind can do anything they want," Kerlin said.

Like Buettner, who has found ways to keep his golf game thriving, despite the obstacles created by losing his eyesight.

"I've got a talking GPS that tells me distance from where I'm standing to the hole. I have a telescope which helps me spot flags and bunkers and so forth," Buettner said.

Shot in the Dark

Jackie Ackley

"We call it reasonable accommodations. I mean, I may have to have a special tool. I may have to have some type of fixture that helps me locate a part or to place two parts in proper alignment, and if you're willing to work at it hard enough and you've got enough people behind you who are willing to help, there's just about nothing that you can't do," Jackie Ackley with Beyond Vision said.

Ackley didn't play in the tournament, but for her, it served a broader purpose.

"I think it's important because I, myself, would like to see the blind community integrated more fully into the sighted community.  I would like to see more avenues open for blind people. There's a lot of blind people out there that want to work, that are willing to work, that are able to work," Ackley said.

Shot in the Dark

"I have a great job, a great career with Beyond Vision. I've got a wife. I've got two beautiful kids and live very independently and live the life that I want to live," Buettner said.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is something this event also highlighted.

Shot in the Dark

CLICK HERE to learn more about Beyond Vision.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Vision Forward.