Kevin Hall: Breaking Barriers on the PGA Tour
By: Tommy Zimmer – According to the World Health Organization, there are 466 million people worldwide who have disabling hearing loss. By 2050, it is said that over 900 million people will experience hearing loss too. One of those people struggling is Kevin Hall, a professional PGA Tour golfer. For someone who is deaf, it might seem surprising they decided to go into golf, which can be a very competitive and difficult sport to be successful for in. However, right now, his stats tell the story. He has a 271.5 driving distance with a total distance of 3,258 and 12 drives. His driving percentage accuracy is 63.41 percentage with 52 fairways hit and 82 possible fairways. His putting average is 1.827 with 137 GIT putts and 75 greens hit. For his birdie average, it is 3.50 with 21 birdies. Overall, his scoring average is 72.67, including 436 total strokes and six total rounds.
Suffice it to say, Hall has not let his dream die of being the best golfer on the PGA that he can. His story started when he was much younger and could still hear. It began at two and a half years old for him. His diagnosis was death when he contracted H-flu meningitis. As he says, “by the grace of God,” he was able to survive the ordeal. There was something sad that happened to him though: he lost his hearing. He had no other issues, just that. Regardless, his father and mother promised one another they would raise him as a child with no problems. He said that they have kept their word to this day.
Hall found himself enrolled in St. Rita School for the Deaf as well as different programs that could help him. It was not known whether he used a sonic boom clock to help him wake up. With his desire to play sports, he began to try out many different ones. While he found enjoyment in many of the different sports he played, when he swung the golf club his friend Sonny Barnes gave him, it was love at first sight. As he put in his own words, this experience changed everything for him. “Feeling the sweet sensation of perfect contact and watching the ball take flight told me everything I needed to know,” Hall said.
Golf requires practice every day and that is just what Hall did. He might have needed a sonic boom clock to wake up and be ready for each morning. He learned everything he could about the sport and focused on bettering himself each day to get the job done. He worked toward getting a golf scholarship to college, so he sought to become the best player there was in Cincinnati, where he attended high school. He was able to get that scholarship and become the first deaf black golfer at the Ohio State University. Each year, he noticed he became better than he was before. He would find himself winning the Big Ten Championship by just eleven strokes in 2004. He also graduated with a journalism degree in 2005, something he wishes to pursue at another point down the road in sports journalism. While he had a great deal of early success, he recognized he had to overcome barriers of being black and deaf.
“As much as I enjoy golf, my journey is often lonely and there’s a lot of added pressure to succeed on behalf of the communities I represent,” Hall said. “I learned early on that nothing in life is easy and there’s really nothing else to do but deal with it and keep pressing on.”
With the support of his family and friends, he decided to pursue a professional golf career. He has been able to participate in a number of mini-tours, 11 web.com events, and six PGA Tour events. “Golf has been an unrelenting passion for me ever since I took that first shot at 9 years old,” Hall said. “I wake up every morning thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get better.’” And indeed, he continues to make his career better. During each tournament, he has someone helping him and communicating with him in sign language. He knows how lucky he is to play the sport he loves but also meet amazing people along the way too.
“I thank God for the opportunity to pursue my dream, for the people in my life and the opportunity to inspire others through what I do,” Hall said. “I don’t know what’s in store for me down the road but I owe it to myself and everyone who ever supported me to work as hard as I possibly can while enjoying the journey.”
Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.