I Am Local 6: Brenda Mathes, Blind Disc Golf Player

A student at the University of Tennessee at Martin focuses on her ability and not her disability through the game of disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf. It’s an added challenge to the sport, but it’s an eye opener.

Brenda Mathes is blind because of underdeveloped retinas. With guidance from her husband the outdoor activity that relies heavily on sight becomes another accomplishment for her.

Brenda enjoys the sound of being outdoors on the disc golf course, but can barely make out the sights.

“Some days I know I’m going to have good vision, and some days are not as good as others,” Brenda said.

Her vision fluctuates because of retinopathy prematurity. Her retinas did not fully develop because of a premature birth. That’s why disc golf seemed like an unlikely sport for Mathes, but she is able to send the Frisbee down the fairway and into the basket with the help of her husband, Martin Mathes.

“I just tell her kind of where things are or how far it is to the basket and what direction,” Martin said.

Then, she relies on her hearing to make the final putt.

“He’s really what allows me to be able to see through him,” Brenda said.

Brenda can see bright colors and movement, but she cannot see details at long distances. When Martin rattles the chain, it all comes into focus.

“I’ve been know to hit some crazy hits before, just from hearing the sound from where the basket is located,” Brenda said.

Those crazy hits can lead to bragging rights, especially when playing with the guys.

“Not only am I a woman, but I’m blind too. It’s kind of a double whammy,” Brenda said.

Her drives inspire, both mentally and athletically.

“It never stops me from conquering my dreams.  I focus on the positive instead of focusing on the negative, because the negative is not going to get me anywhere,” Brenda said.

Brenda also downhill skies, and she took gymnastics.

If you know of someone who isn’t letting their disability define them, you can contact Tori Shaw via email at tshaw@wpsdlocal6.com, Twitter @TShawWPSD or Facebook. 

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