Local deaf golfer makes national team

November 21, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

It's not unusual for a golfer to try to make a little money on the golf course. But Mike Yance is trying to make a little money to get to the golf course.

Yance is raising the money he needs to compete with a national team at the World Deaf Golf Championships next summer in Sweden.

The Danville man, a 3-handicap golfer, earned a spot on a nine-man team of players from across the country that will play in the biannual event.

"I am looking forward to actually playing in the world deaf open, also to meeting new friends from all over the world," Yance said.


While he is working on his game to prepare for the competition, he is also working on doing what it takes to make it to the first tee.

"Each team member is required to raise at least $3,500 for the United States Deaf Golf Foundation in order to participate as a U.S. team member," he said.

Yance hopes to complete his fund-raising efforts by the end of the year, after which he'll turn all his attention to the tournament.

The WDGC will be the latest and most significant accomplishment for Yance, who took up the game as a senior at Virginia School for the Deaf and later played for the Gallaudet University team.

Since moving to Kentucky, Yance has won the Kentucky Deaf Golf Association state championship several times and has earned a handful of second-place finishes at the Southeastern Deaf Golfers Association tournament.

"I feel that my game has greatly improved since I moved to Kentucky," said Yance, who works in student development at Kentucky School for the Deaf. "My game continues getting better every year. My wife deserves credit for that for letting me play as much as I possibly can."

Thanks to his record in other deaf tournaments, Yance was one of 48 players invited to this year's USDGF national tournament at Pinehurst, N.C. He said he went in hopes of earning one of three spots on the first seniors team that would go to the world event, but his scores were low enough to give him a spot on the open team.

"I thought I had a chance to qualify as a senior, but I played well enough to make it on the U.S. deaf team instead," he said.

Yance shot in the low 80s in each round of the 54-hole tournament played on a course over 6,500 yards long.

"My short game and putting kept me in the race because I couldn't drive as far as the others," he said. "I had to make up for distance with accuracy and putting."

He said that on the final day of the tournament, he was a ball of nerves as he finished his round until his children, 5-year-old Bethany and 3-year-old Payne -- named in honor of the late Payne Stewart -- ran to hug him on the 18th green.

"My wife and I walked over and looked at the scoreboard and realized that I would make it onto the U.S. team," he said. "We hugged and cried.

"I never dreamed that I would someday make it onto the U.S deaf national team, but it happened, and it is the greatest accomplishment of my golf career. The memories will stay with me forever."

Yance said he got tremendous support from Spence Jones, who also made the trip to Pinehurst, as well as other playing partners Paul Kulick and Marty Jaggers and local club professionals John Mesplay and Bruce Brown.

Now he's seeking to secure the financial support he needs to reach Sweden. "I have written letters to family, friends, co-workers, et cetera asking for donations," he said.

Yance will join seven players who were part of the U.S. team's third-place finish in the 2002 WDGC in Ireland and one other newcomer in the next world tourney July 26-30 in Stockholm.

"I think I can help them to win, and I really want to represent the U.S. very well," he said.

To contribute to Yance, make a tax-deductible contribution to the USDGF and mail it to Mike Yance, 127 Majestic Prince, Danville, 40422. For more information on the USDGF, visit

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