I was fortunate to be in the four ball with both winners: Mike Hudson, a low handicapper with just one arm, and Renee Russo a sprightly OAP with an a prosthetic leg following an amputation when a young lady in her 20s. I met many golfers with significant physical handicaps; double amputees mixing with fellow stroke victims, and heart attack patients. The event encompasses all that is good about golf and is the perfect remedy when I occasionally still feel sorry for myself.
Getting encouragement on the way round
So, it was with great pleasure and anticipation that I returned on Saturday for this year’s competition. Last year the event had over 40 participants, sadly this years was less well supported, partly I think because of the oppressive heat wave we are currently enjoying. I guess even for these most-keen of golfers, 18-holes in 100 degree temperatures and intense humidity is not pleasurable. Still, the course was in pristine condition and all set for a magnificent day’s golf. I was in a three ball with Tom, a retired American History teacher from The Villages, North Florida. Naturally I asked him what history! Tom had sadly lost his leg over 40 years earlier in a freak accident in 8th grade playing gridiron. A lifetime without a limb. Still it ensured I did not moan about my stiff left leg.
The true spirit of golf and how to overcome difficulties
Tom was very keen and competitive and an enjoyable companion during the round: he pushed me to deliver all the way. Our third member was a young man called Brew, who had been involved in an automobile accident 19 years-ago. He was still being treated and had obviously been in quite a bad way and only recently taken up golf to supplement his ongoing recovery. He played the entire round and each shot with an enthusiasm I found spiritually fulfilling, I became his unofficial caddy, reading putts, recommending clubs and generally encouraging this remarkable young man.
It has been said life and a round of golf can be compared to an amusement park: each hole and each day different but there to be enjoyed. Brew clearly had more than his share of ups and downs, and difficult times, but I have rarely completed a round feeling quite as content as I did this one and that was before the score. Brew now knows many English golfing terms including: hit it hard... find it...hit it hard again…whack it...cracker…give it a welly...
Because I was so relaxed and the course set up particularly leniently in view of the difficulties some players would have (and bear in mind all the events I had played were off championship tees) suddenly playing off the front tees made the course so much easier. I shot 40 out and with the aid of two chip ins on the back nine level par 35 for 75 to finish the winner by 6 shots. The main source of my success was the support given by both my partners and organiser Joe Styne who all constantly encouraged me during the round as they realised I was in contention.
I gave a gift of my book to all competitors and had a book signing after the cup presentation. The book was well received by all. Whilst unbelievably proud to become the 4th winner and first overseas champion, I will take from this day far more than a golfing success. My sincerest hope is that on the day I encouraged Brew to continue his golfing journey. I hope to keep in touch and anticipate the pleasure he will have if and when he breaks one hundred.