2013 Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities was held on October
26th, 2013 in Kissimmee, Florida. The 8th annual all-inclusive
open tournament was played on the Clifton, Ezell & Clifton
designed golf course at Remington Golf Club in Kissimmee and
was an awe-inspiring success and a lot of fun for all the participants.
tournament was graciously hosted by the generous folks at Remington
Golf Club and went off without a hitch. Bill Stine the course
owner at Remington Golf Club should be commended for volunteering
to be involved with this years event. Remington Golf Club
is a prestigious venue and all the players were grateful and
very much appreciated its fine conditioning and ambiance.
The open tournament
was founded in 2006 by Florida Golf Magazine with the help of
some initial much needed guidance provided by the
National Alliance for Accessible Golf. Just as it has been since
its inception, this tournament is definitely not-for-profit.
The bare-bones entry fee of $50 has always included 18 hole green
fees, an award banquet, range balls and prizes. This open tournament
raises no money for any cause, nor does it try to get anyone
to join any organizations or foundations of any kind. The goal
of this all-inclusive open tournament has always
been to have fun playing golf, while raising awareness of accessibility
issues concerning golfers with disabilities and/or mobility challenges.
An eclectic group
of golfers participated in 2013, rallying once again to raise
awareness for accessibility issues concerning golfers with disabilities
and-or mobility challenges. But more importantly, they came to
bond with their peers and support one another while having
fun playing golf.
of the 8th annual tournament included golfers of all levels of
abilities. As in previous years, several members and representatives
of the Amputee Veterans of America Support Team (AVAST), Eastern
Amputee Golf Association (EAGA), Southern Amputee Golf Association
(SAGA) and the National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA) competed
in the open tournament, some of whom wore prosthetics and some
who didnt. But make no mistake; this all-inclusive tournament
was not just for amputees. There was a diverse group of golfers
participating that were mobility challenged from the effects
of a wide range of conditions, including strokes, paraplegia,
and traumatic brain injuries.
a conscious effort to be all-inclusive, golfers without disabilities
are also always encouraged to play in the open tournament, along
with their friends with disabilities, and are eligible to compete
for the Overall Low Gross Award, and of course, anyone with a
USGA Handicap is also eligible to compete for the Male and Female
Low Net Awards. As always the player with the lowest gross got
the honor of having their name inscribed on the permanent open
Virgil Price, a St Petersburg resident
and Treasurer of the National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA),
dominated the inaugural tournament in 2006, winning 1st Place
overall, scoring a gross 72 on the challenging 18 holes at Kissimmee
Mike Hudson shot a 75 to win 1st
place Overall in the 3rd Annual Florida Open Tournament for Golfers
with Disabilities and/or Mobility Challenges held on 7/14/2008.
Born with one hand, Mike Hudson is a Volunteer Golf Instructor
in Pasco County.
Tampa resident, Monroe Berkman,
a polio surviver, won the 2007 Florida Open Tournament for Golfers
with Disabilties, playing every shot, including sandtraps from
his SoloRider Adaptive Golfcar. Berkman, who shot 80 had no problems
hitting out of the bunkers using his stand-up seat to support
him during his full golf swing.
Stroke survivor, Ian Halliwel came
all the way from England and shot a 74 to win 1st Place Low Gross
in the 2009 Florida Open Tournament for Golfers with Disabilties
and/ or Mobility Challenges. Now his name is also inscribed on
the prestigous Open tournament trophy.
Dale Dawson, a 47 year-old Palm
Beach Gardens resident who suffers from debilitating tremors
shot a gross 71 to win the 2011 Open Tournament.
Robert McIntyre, a 43 year-old Palm
Beach Gardens, Disabled Veteran wounded in Iraq won the 2012
Strongman Steve Shipuleski,
from Palm Beach Gardens, who golfs one-handed won the open tournament
in 2010 and 2013. Steven was the Low Gross, 1st Place Winner
of The 2013 Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities. His wife
Deborah Shipuleski, who is standing in the background, won the
2013 tournament Female Low Net category.
Golf is an individual
sport that breeds unique characters. No two golfers are exactly
alike; hence, no two swings are exactly alike. It is said that
a golfers swing is a very personal thing, much like ones
religion. Each golfer must learn to repeat a swing that moves
the clubhead into impact in the most consistent manner possible
based on his own body and what it can do.
The 2013 Florida
Open for Golfers with Disabilities and/or Mobility Challenges
was won by 43 year-old Palm Beach Gardens resident Steve Shipuleski.
Shipuleski who plays golf with one hand, has a 14 handicap, and
plays most of the time at the Golf Club of Jupiter.
is tall at 511, he says that he shortened and re-gripped
all of his own clubs himself. He also says that he was born without
the use of his left hand and since he plays golf right handed,
and the right hand is normally held lowest by right handed golfers,
that shortening the length of the shafts gives him more control.
said that he could drive the ball farther by swinging backhanded
like a lefty but has more control and finesse with his short
game when he swings right handed. So, even though he is capable
of playing either way, addressing the ball with a right handed
swing is a conscious decision on his part.
wife, Deborah, seen in the background of the photo below also
participated in the open tournament and won the Female Low net
Steve Allberry won 2nd Place Low
Net with a beautiful cross handed grip.
Best of friends, amputee,
Tom Walters, traumatic brain injury survivor, Charles Brugh and
stroke survivor, Ian Halliwell play together every year.
Seen here demonstrating excellent sand play, Doc Milligan won
5th Place Low Net.
an investment in golfers with disabilities is a hot new trend
in the business world, and according to a census bureau report,
one in five U.S. residents has a disability. Thats about
18% of the U.S. population or 57 million people. More and more
people, such as inventors, designers and golf course owners,
are now making an effort to address the needs of golfers with
disabilities. And, this tournament lets everyone have a lot of
fun while raising awareness of these issues.
Sarasota resident and stroke
survivor, Joe Boyd competed in the open tournament using a SoloRider
adaptive golf cart
is the culmination of mind and body integration and significant
improvement as a result of participation in the game demonstrates
determination, patience, and growth as a person.
Injury (TBI) survivor Charles M. Brugh, who competes in this
tournament every year, told us, The neurological, psychological
and physical benefits of golf are precisely why GOLF is a cornerstone
of my extended efforts to conquer Traumatic Brain Injury.
GOLF the equivalent of graduate study in neurological rehabilitation
at a prestigious university, he said. Its just
that good. I implore my fellow survivors of brain injury to pick
up a club and smack that little white ball around. From much
personal experience, it is with absolute certainty that I tell
you: Golf is positive and meaningful as a therapeutic modality!
Done consistently, as part of an overall therapeutic regime,
GOLF will greatly enhance both your rehabilitation and your life.
If you would
like to help raise awareness of accessibility issues concerning
golfers with disabilities, come play in our open tournament.
- see www.floridagolfmagazine.com/open
or call 863-227-2751
truly is something about golf that brings out the best in a person,
and nowhere is this made more evident than at the Florida Open
for Golfers with Disabilities and/or Mobility Challenges.