Deaf Sports Stars16th July 2015

Top Deaf Lady Golfer Captures Her Second Hole in One

Young, sporty and determined, Andrea Hovstein Hjellegjerde achieves the ultimate in golf - twice!

by Sarah Lawrence

As the world’s greatest male golfers get underway at St. Andrews in Scotland for the British Open today, Deaf golfers around the world will be watching their heroes in action and many will be wondering what might have been. For some, they still hope to make it on to the professional circuit.

Playing for millions in prize money, deaf golfers would welcome the opportunity to play for a fraction of that purse in the major Deaf competitions that take place each year/bi-annually. Like the world’s best, deaf golfers love the game. For some, it is a wonderful social activity, for others, especially the aspiring youngsters, high level competition is a key part of the game, and then there are people like me, who enjoy both.

The wonderful think about the Deaf golfing competitions that take place, is the level of friendship and camaraderie that competitors enjoy. One of the most lovely Deaf golfers is Andrea Hovstein Hjellegjerde, an elegant and beautiful young lady from Trondheim in Norway. Andrea is one of those golfers who likes to compete at the top level of Deaf sport and she has recently completed something in golf that I have always wanted to achieve. In fact she has done it twice - a hole in one.

Falling in love with golf from a young age, Andrea obtained her green card when she was 9. Playing infrequently back then, golf was just a hobby, with handball being her main sport. A sports addict, Andrea also played lots of other sports when younger including football, volleyball, track and field, boxing, skiing, snowboarding and climbing, as well as some dancing. Phew!!

Aged 16, Andrea decided to take golf a little more seriously, practicing more regularly and looking to take part in competitions whilst still playing handball. In just 4 years, Andrea’s handicap has dropped from 25 to 4, and she has ambitions to get even better than that. :Has Norway has short Summers, I play golf in the Summer and handball throughout the long Winters,” Andrea told me.

Born Hard of Hearing, Andrea lost all hearing in her left ear, and her hearing level in the right ear has also reduced, meaning that she still has slight hearing and uses hearing aids. Stable for the last 5 years, she knows that nay remaining hearing could disappear overnight. “My mom and dad didn't know I was hard of hearing until I was 3 years old,” Andrea explained, “and the doctor found it out. I started then in a deaf kinder-garden one week in a month, and the rest of the week in the month at a hearing kinder-garden. I started learning sign language as well as my moms language.”

“Over the years I have also learned other sign languages and have no problem in understanding deaf people from all over the world. Sometimes, I have to check what someone said but I think we all do that at times.”

Andrea attended mainstream school from the age of 6 to16, and after that she studied media and communication in high school, until she was 18. She then went to study for a year in college in motion graphic design, but is now in her final year learning to be a pre-school teacher.

Competing at the highest level of Deaf golf, Andrea’s first hole in one came in Finland 2 years ago in the European Deaf Open Championships. The only woman in the field with a handicap low enough to play in the main part of the tournament, Andrea played alongside a group of men. Arriving at the 8th hole, it was a downhill Par 3, and Andrea picked a 9 iron out of her bag.

“I picked my 9 iron but topped it a bit,” Andrea described. “I watched the ball land just next to the hole. The ball starting rolling closer and closer to the flag, and in the end it ended up in the hole! I was so happy since this was my first hole in one ever!”

Finished the tournament 4th in the men’s class, Andrea was really happy with the outcome of her tournament. “I also got 5 bottles of champagne to celebrate with, and shared those with all the players.”

Her second hole in one came a few weeks ago playing locally at Stjordal Golf Club. “Today I hit a 9 iron as well! I hit it straight at the flag, and I saw the ball land on the green. It is an uphill hole and you can only see part of the green from the tee, so I couldn’t see the ball finish rolling. “When I went up to the green, we couldn't find my ball on the green or off green, so the only place must be in the hole and IT WAS!!!! I was so happy! I ended my round four over par.”

Looking forward to further Deaf tournaments, and winning the World Deaf Golf Championships,  Andrea hopes to inspire other Deaf youngsters to get involved in Deaf golf and join the world championships. “The World Deaf Golf Championships is a great place to meet new people as well as old friends,”Andrea said. “You can meet the best Deaf and Hard of Hearing players in the world and have great fun.”

We will be following Andrea’s progress and expect her to be a strong contender at the next World Championships in Denmark in 2016. 

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Stars

16th July 2015