Blind golfer to play Long Beach links

Bryana Miller

Seal Beach Lions are going to have a unique player in their golf tournament on Thursday, May 5, at Bixby Golf Course in Long Beach.

Huntington Beach resident Bryana Miller, who is visually impaired, will be playing in a foursome with her grandmother Carol.   Grandfather Bruce will be her caddy.

The 20-year-old golfer has been cortically blind since she was 4 months old, when she had a case of viral encephalitis, according to her grandmother.

At the time she contracted the virus, Bryana was not breathing and was determined to be clinically dead in her crib.  Emergency 911 was called.

Paramedics revived her, and she was taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital for treatment, Bryana’s dad Bruce revealed.

Bryana’s twin brother did not contract the virus and his vision and mental capabilities are fine.

Although she has been playing golf since she was 7 or 8 years old, Bryana has tried other sports as well.

She tried soccer, but it was hard for her to see the ball.  She was on a softball team, and she even had a hit.

“Bryana has some vision,” Carol said.  “It is like looking through a piece of Swiss cheese at something.”

Darren Ernst, golf pro at Meadowlark Golf Course in Huntington Beach, has been giving Bryana lessons.

“No one would touch her,” Carol said.  “They didn’t know what to do with her.”

Carol said that Coach Ernst now uses Bryana as an example to his other students and says look how well she hits and she couldn’t see the ball.

As well as taking lessons at Meadowlark, Bryana practices at the park by her house with softball-sized wiffle balls.

She aims for the trees, which are large enough for her to see.

When she is out on the golf course, either Carol or Bruce stand behind the pin and say to her, “Hit to my voice, Bryana,” so she knows which way to putt the ball.

As for chipping, her grandparents also give a little advice by saying, “Hit a little one” or “Hit a hard one.”

When asked what her favorite part of the game is, Bryana said, “I love to get up in the tee box and tee off.  I love to hit the ball hard.”

Hard work and practicing has paid off for Bryana.  She recently won First Place in the Special Olympics Tournament in San Marcos for Golf Skills. She proudly wears the medal she won.

Bryana said no one has ever been mean or rude to her on the golf course.

She is looking forward to advancing her skills and playing in more Special Olympics Tournaments in the future.

The Seal Beach Lions Club Golf Tournament will be held on Thursday, May 5 at Bixby Golf Course.  Cost is $50 per player.

Hole Sponsors are available for $50.

A Cinco de Mayo dinner is included.

There will be awards for Men and Women’s Closest to the Pin, Men and Women’s Longest Drive, and First Place for Men, Women’s and Mixed Players.

For more information, call Barbara Avakian at (562) 596-0816 or Nancy Herbert at (562) 430-1463 or