Ryan Keenan, a 12-year-old golf prodigy from Bigfork with a vision impediment in both eyes, shot his first career hole-in-one last week. Lon Hinkle, who golfed on the PGA Tour during the Jack Nicklaus era, contacted me last Friday to tell me the news. The day before, on Thursday, Keenan called Hinkle to tell him he hoped to squeeze one more day out of the golf season at the Eagle Bend Golf Club.
“I told Ryan if we get a nice day, call me and we’ll go,” Hinkle said. “He called that morning and we bundled up and went out there. It was probably our last day of golfing.”
On the sixth hole, playing from the white tees, Keenan launched a six-iron that sailed perfectly toward the pin. Keenan, Hinkle and John Lang watched as the ball dropped into the hole, 125 yards away.
“He got so excited, so animated,” Hinkle said. “It was the neatest deal. It was a wonderful day.”
I wrote a story in August about Keenan after he won the Bill Roberts Montana Junior Amateur Golf Championship by 20 strokes. Just as impressive as his story – overcoming vision problems to become the best golfer in the state for his age – is Keenan himself. He speaks like an adult and is undeniably bright. And his work ethic should be envied by anyone, regardless of age.
Congratulations to Keenan for his first hole-in-one. Something tells me it won’t be his last.
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