Wheelchair golfer plays historic courseJul 19 02:19
Think wheelchairs and golf don’t mix? Think again. Better yet, think of Mike Reeder, a Vietnam vet and double-leg amputee, who has become the first golfer in a wheelchair to ever play the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf and a course known for its treacherous holes. What’s even more impressive, he broke par, shooting 79.
News of Reeder’s accomplishment has reached the ears of Jack Nicklaus, and he had this to say. “To go to St. Andrews, prop yourself up and hold your wheelchair stable and hit it solid enough to get around the golf course … that's pretty astounding.” Damn straight, Mr. Nicklaus (maybe this gives him hope that he can play when he’s 90?).
It is certainly harder to golf while seated, especially in a lightweight chair (which he designed himself), that must be held in place while swinging. But with over 15 years of practice, including getting a hole-in-one and shooting par through the years, he has made golf not just a hobby he can do, but excel at.
Reeder’s bad ass accomplishment has gotten me rethinking the whole adapted golf thing. Maybe I should give it a whirl afterall? Before my injury, I golfed maybe twice, and it was at a crappy 9-hole public course with rental clubs. Doesn’t really count. I’ve always wanted to try adapted golf, but never thought I’d be any good due now to my limited arm and wrist movement (C6 quad). If I could figure out a way to throw down a decent swing, I would be thrilled (any quads out there with advice?).
There are quite a few golf gadgets actually that have been created to help wheelchair golfers. There are adapted clubs, are shortened for seated-users (here), and there are even golf wheelchairs that help you stand, giving you a stance for a more natural swing, like the ParaGolfer (so cool), as well as swivel seals for golf carts, which are a cheaper alternative, and help you swing from the cart, since wheelchairs aren't allowed on putting greens.
Mike Reeder is showing the world we truly can be competitive in sports. Until I get my butt in gear and take some adapted golf classes so I can be just like him, I’ll be channeling Mr. Reeder every time I fire up the ’ol Wii Golf.
National Alliance for Accessible Golf (lists accessible courses in the US)
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.