Singing dogs, cuddly nurses and golf: Witnessing America’s ‘rain man’ hit his 97th hole in one

I have always been a fan of Rain Man, the classic 1990 film about a man with Down’s Syndrome, even though it caused quite a stir when it was first released.

Most people considered Phil Mickelson to be the ‘Rain Man of golf’, his father having once married a woman with Down’s Syndrome after being struck by her incredible ability.

But in fact it was another American – Ted Bishop, a former college professional and PGA tour player – who broke the all-time record for the most holes in one.

He managed 104 in a relatively short period of time between September 2005 and December 2006.

Bishop’s feat has been remarkable to watch, even more so as it is just under 30 years since he first carded the remarkable haul of 11 holes in one.

That was at the Deer Run par-three 6th in Burlington, Massachusetts, which he holed from 120 yards on the old standard ball, always a good course for a practice routine.

So what does a man with Down’s Syndrome play like? Well, according to Mark Arviso, the former PGA professional who is now a teacher of managing disability in Florida, the 57-year-old is a “natural player, pure and simple”.

“He’s still swinging the baby driver,” he told BBC Sport. “It’s the driver that’s abnormal to him. The rest of the swing is very natural.”

He added: “After the first 11 holes in one, there were 42 other similar results. Some of the smaller guys were like ‘wow, there he is again’ – and the big boys said ‘wow what’s going on?’

“And when it was finally broken – with 23 in six months – he’s really not very excited about it. He was ready to start his new routine and return to regular golf.”

Christian has definitely followed the game in its various guises. He began as a youth prodigy, breaking all sorts of records in Florida, and took his chances on the tour as a teenager but quickly ended up back home in Florida when the pressure became too much.

At the age of 11 he was one of the best junior players in the country, but the trauma of losing his brother Scott before he was even born, along with his own battle with Down’s Syndrome, led to his decision to give golf away.

But Bishop has played the odd round, on the course or in the sanctuary of his living room, ever since and is hoping to be able to walk the 18th at Royal Arneagles later this month, where he says he will be hoping to shoot under par.

“I won’t be walking because it’s a nice tree, that’s all,” he told BBC Sport. “But walking’s my seventh hole in one and I will have done something special.

“I’d just love to get the time together with the guys.”

Having hit the latest set of headlines for his incredible feat of hitting the ball more than 110 yards with his adopted driver, Bishop sounds like he is more at home now in the spotlight than ever.

There are no plans to follow in Rain Man’s footsteps and marry his golf partner, Sue Miller.

“I’m going to have to ask her,” he admitted. “But if I do it won’t be for another three years.”

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