DANVILLE — Tommy Marks ranks second in the world among blind golfers following wins in Rome, Italy, and in Nashville, Tenn.
He won the Italian Blind Open Tournament this month and the U.S. Blind National Championship at the end of August.
“He holds titles in two countries,” said his dad Robert Marks Sr., who serves as his coach.
Tommy Marks said he competes in the B-3 category for people with vision of 20/200 to 20/600.
The Danville resident was top among 54 players in the Italian Open.
He was second among 50 players in the World Blind Golf Championship. Both tournaments were held in Rome this month.
The world event attracted players from Japan, Scotland, Ireland, England and Australia and other countries.
Tommy said he received a trophy from each tournament.
According to the U.S. Blind Golf Association, B-1 players are considered to be totally blind and B-2 is the ability to recognize the shape of a hand with a visual acuity of less than 20/600. B-3 players’ visual acuity is 20/600 and less than 20/200, according to the association.
Tommy said his finishes were determined from the two tournaments in Rome in all three sight categories and also among women players. “You take the gross score and subtract your handicap and that gives you the net score,” he said.
For the international event, each country can nominate two players in each sight category to go. Anyone can go to the open, said Tommy, who serves as chief of staff for Green Thumb Industries in Danville.
The winner of the world event in Rome was Canadian Keefer Jones, 28, whose mother is his coach. “He’s a really nice young man who works at a golf course and can play all year-round,” said Tommy, 38.
Tommy, who has played in blind association tournaments for nearly six years, said he scored the low gross for the entire tournament of 48 players in the national event.
As coach, his dad follows his drives, lines up his shots by sometimes putting a club down and showing him the direction, lines up putts and estimates distances to the pin. “By the end of the day, “I’m exhausted,” Robert Marks Sr. said.
When not on the golf course, they were able to do some touring while in Rome, which included visiting the Colosseum and Circus Maximus.
Next year, Tommy hopes to play in The Vision Cup and the U.S. Blind National Championship. The Vision Cup may be held in South Africa and the location for the U.S. Blind National Championship will be announced at a later date.
He hopes to compete in the world championship in South Africa in 2020. The world event is held every two years.
He and his dad have traveled to Japan, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Orlando, Tennessee, Texas and Ohio for tournaments.
Tommy said he seldom gets to practice because of his job and his family. He and his wife, Heather, have two young daughters, Joselyn, 6, and Genevieve, who will be 3 in January.
He enjoys traveling and competing in tournaments. “It’s a great time traveling with my father and spending time with him and meeting so many people from around the world,” he said.
He said he has played in 14 blind golf events in North America and won them all. Of four international tournaments, he won one and finished second twice.
Tommy, who said he has no central vision with his sight becoming worse, was diagnosed at age 21 with Stargardt disease — a rare genetic illness and a progressive form of juvenile macular degeneration.
While at Bucknell University, he was a top freshman golfer. He was a District 4 golf champion in 1997 for Danville Area High School.