MISSOULA — When Payden Keyes was a student at the University of Montana he was a frequent visitor of the golf course near campus.
For Keyes golf is one of the few physical activities he can participate in.
“So I was born with pulmonary atresia. I’m basically missing a valve to my lungs and my heart. Basically, I’ve had three open heart surgeries over my life the last one was in 2018 hopefully the last one.”
Keyes needs a sport that doesn't demand too much physical activity, and he found that on the golf course.
Not only that, he found a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for golfers like him through an East Coast foundation.
The Round of a Lifetime Foundation was established in 2010 after an avid golfer named Andrew Macie died from a congenital heart defect.
To honor Macie, his friends established the foundation and they use the money they raise to send golfers with heart conditions to some of the most exclusive golf courses in the world.
Keyes’ mother sent his story to the foundation and he was selected as its 14th recipient.
“He started playing right around high school stopped for a few years and fell in love with the game again which we thought was really cool. The fact that it’s you it’s continually a part of… he says he plays once or twice a week. He’s got a young son now that he brings on the course. He checked a lot of the boxes for us and it was a pretty easy choice for us for him to be our next recipient," explained Round of a Lifetime board member Dan Igo.
When Keyes was selected he chose to play at the Corales Golf Course in the Dominican Republic which hosts a PGA Tour event every year., he was surprised but grateful for the opportunity.
“It was just very surreal at first and the previous people that have gone… a lot of them are kids but some of them are even older than me," Keyes said. "Some 40-year-old guys go, and it’s a really good opportunity to anybody that has a heart condition but also loves golf would definitely just be elated by getting to go on something like this.”
Keyes will tee off at the Corales Golf Course on Nov. 2, 2023.