- Alistair Tait
The power of golf to change lives
Another lockdown gave me even more time to reflect on the nature of my awful golf game, especially after a humbling at Hunstanton, my last round before lockdown number two. I moped my way through a bottle of red wine that evening, depressed that my action was so bad I couldn’t compress the ball enough to bore through the seaside wind.
I’m now thinking of what it would have been like that day if, say, I’d had to play that great links on one leg, or with a medical condition or had suffered some great trauma. I now realise how fortunate I am, and how pitiful my brooding was, after sampling the stories of golfers who’ve refused to let disability stop them from playing this great game.
Think you’ve got things hard? Think again. Thanks to Ben Evans for sending me a link to EDGA Golfers First Profiles supported by Ping, a collection of 72 stories, written and audio, on golfers who, in Ben words:
“Refuse to be labelled by their disability and instead are reaching their potential with the help of golf.
“The stories include Aleš starting life in a hospital waste basket, Caroline telling her surgeon, 'When you take my leg, you are going to give me life,’ and Shlomo taking his girls to the beach, dragging himself to the water’s edge. There is Stewart, battling back after serving in Afghanistan, Lucas loving what golf offers after being shot eight times in the back.
Through the sport and its camaraderie, many of these golfers have survived traumatic times and enhanced their lives. 'Golf saved/improved my life’ has been a regular quote.”
Juan Postigo Arce (pictured) has so much spirit he would probably have succeeded in whatever challenge he took up. The Spaniard was born without most of his right leg and no knee, yet through practice and perseverance he was a four handicapper by the time he was 17. He’s a two-time winner of the EDGA Championship and has played all over the world. His approach to the game is very simple:
“In golf, we can play against and with everyone; it is one of only a few games where our disability doesn’t count. We play the same courses with the same conditions,” he told EDGA president Tony Bennett.
Most of us could learn from his attitude not only to golf, but life too.
“Golf and life are quite similar. Accept yourself as you are, if you have only got one leg, you will only ever have one leg, so be happy with it… I have never had any issue with feeling or being different.”
He was featured on Golf.com earlier this year, complete with clips of his swing. They’re worth watching just for the power he generates despite standing on one leg.
Of course, he’s not the first to realise he could play this game on one leg. Ernest Jones was good enough play in the Open Championship before World War I. He was still a great player after losing the lower half of his right leg in the war. As he wrote in his book Swinging into Golf:
"In spite of my physical handicap, which obviously must have changed the outward appearance of my stroke, I could still play well."
Jones went on to become one of the most successful teachers ever thanks to his simple 'Swing the Clubhead’ philosophy.
The stories on the EDGA website are uplifting, proof that human beings can overcome adversity through sheer self belief and perseverance and a steadfast refusal to let disability stand in their way. They highlight the power of golf to change lives Check them out. It’ll put your own game into perspective.
I certainly won’t be moping about getting humbled at Hunstanton again, or any other course for that matter. I realise how lucky I am.
#JustSaying: "It takes all sort to make a world, and what might look the hard way to most people invariably proves to be the natural way for somebody."Sir Henry Cotton