TSG Teeing off
I play golf because I LOVE GOLF.... I enjoy the thrill of an against nature and its elements... "I always smell the Roses" ( Ben Hogan ), I simply find golf courses beautiful creations.....
I play GOLF because it is good for both my soul and health. After my tumour in 96 and stroke in 06, golf has always been a major catalyst for my ongoing recovery. "There are no bad rounds of Golf save that last one we will ever play" Bernard Hunt.
I play Golf because of the camaraderie and friendships that I have formed over many years. In no other walk of my life have these acquaintances often formed so briefly over just a simple round, lasted and endured and given me some much joy and often comfort.
I play Golf because it makes me HAPPY. "Happy Golf is Good Golf, even the best Golf, so we are all capable of playing good golf and playing our best." Gary Player.
That is why annually I travel over 6000 miles to play in The Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities. This year saw my fourth visit and I am a proud ex champ having clinched the prestigious title in 2009 at Kissimmee Bay Golf Club.... but although I certainly went with the desired aim of recapturing the coveted title, the event was far more than just a competition to me. it was an annual opportunity to renew friendships, discuss well being and simply enjoy the company of some of the friendliest, nicest, bravest people I have ever met. It was this competition and watching the impressive ways that amputees, brain injured survivors etc., dealt and coped with their difficulties, overcame them thru fortitude, technology, cussedness and a total love of life and the game, that led me back home in the Uk to devote The Social Golfer concept to actively promoting the cause of Disabilities Golf and now becoming actively involved in the UK. So in many ways returning to Florida is a homecoming to my rebirth as a golfer... it remains the only competition I will annually commit too, it is that important to me and quite frankly, that enjoyable.
Brew in action
The competition for it is still despite my procrastinations above, primarily a golf competition was played out this year at Long Marsh Golf Club, Rotunda just south of Venice on the Gulf Coast. Once again I was paired with my great friend and mucker Charles Brugh. (Brew) His story needs little introduction to most TSGers but save to say how this guy is alive and playing golf is in itself the biggest achievement I personally have ever come across. It was great to see again defending champ Steve Shipeleski a fine guy and great one handed golfer.. he was the man to beat I was sure. The past two years rounds with brew lasted 6 to 7 hours such was the difficulties he endures to play this most beautiful of games. This year we went round in just over 5 hours testament to his ongoing improvement and recovery, a lot of which he puts down to golf. He scored 113 had a super par5 on the 14th and played 14 thru 17 at just 3 over. This for me was the highlight of the entire day as his No 1 English caddy encouraged and motivated his mucker to play the golf of his life. Every round with thi guy i spiritually uplifting and fulfilling. Playing of fwd tees a course of just over 5000 yards obviously made it much easier for me. I discussed with the pro my handicap and agreed to reduce it to 7 for this competition. There was a net category as well as the Gross. I shot 73, bogeying miserably the last.. a costly error. I had beaten Steve he shot 76 off ten we led the net as well with 66, so my reduced handicap proved to be a fair one. My Gross Score led until the last fourball, when a superb one under 71 was declared..... was I disappointed, yes, but the winners story equally as enthralling,an ex air force serviceman, injured playing American football I believe, had actually designed a caliper to assist his golf having never played up to 6 years ago he his know a single digit player and this is now available for many suffering similar joint problems. He certainly deserved the title and is a very worthy champion. A super buffet followed courtesy of the club and then the presentations and awards were made. here Dave and Joe make the day so special involving all the participants, so you become truly aware of every ones difficulties and life changing stories and of course the considerable work done by so many organisations to help golfers with difficulties. I won a King Cobra Driver but having snapped my Ping G10 and replacing it already by a new G15 on this trip, I got great pleasure donating it to a local Veterans Golf Day for a prize in their February event which I will commitments not withstanding try to get over to play.
Uplifted, fulfilled I had played VERY HAPPY GOLF, been reasonably successful and helped my mucker continue his golfing adventure. Mr Joe Styne now a noted author himself, said some very complimentary about me , I very nearly blushed. I certainly hope some of my Uk chums hopefully PegLeg Roger for sure, the new EDGA Rapello in Italy Champion may join me in 2012.
A special Thanks of course to Joe and Florida Golf Magazine for sponsoring the event again.... Dave at the Adaptive Sports Golf for his organisation, support and encouragement. Long Marsh Golf Club for putting on a wonderful event. The course was in superb condition, Greens wonderful, design stunning, I will return. the Staff from Catering, Pro Shop thru Green Staff etc., all deserve extra commendation for the patient, pleasant often humorous way the dealt with 40 golfers not of the norm!!.
But principally, I thank my fellow competitors who are the real reason for the success of this competition. A Joy to be with, a pleasure to play with, I am proud to be associated with you all.
Keep playing HAPPY GOLF
Finally though to Brew, my confidante, mentor.... we will break 100 next year..... 2016 Olmpics remains our joint goal.... and if anyone can.... you can.... Fear of failure does not worry us, not reaching our potential certainly Does...
I could simply eulagise about this competition all day long...... Laughter permitates round the course from holes one to eighteen as golfers despite their respective difficulties and disadvantages show an unbridalled passion and enthusiasm for this pastime I so love. Each encouraging each other over every shot, celebrating the good ones, commiserating the not so good.
So a gamut of emotions, Disappointment I didnt win, tempered by the Excitement of participation, Joy at renewal of friendships.... Thrill of playing such a beautiful course.
Roll on 2012.