Defending Champion, Palm Beach Garden residant Steven Shipuleski
won the Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities tournament
Long time member of the East Amputee Golf Association, John Barton
from Palm Beach Gardens also plays golf with a one-handed swing.
goal of this all-inclusive open tournament is to
have fun playing golf, while raising
awareness of accessibility issues concerning golfers with disabilities
and/or mobility challenges.
Open for Golfers with Disabilities was held on October 13th
in Kissimmee, Florida. The 9th annual all-inclusive
open tournament was played on the Clifton, Ezell & Clifton
designed par 72 golf course at Remington Golf Club 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 for the 2nd year in a row and went off without a hitch.
The folks at Remington Golf Club should be commended for volunteering
to be involved with this 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. The minimal entry fee
of $50 has always included the 18 hole green fees, an award banquet,
range balls and prizes.
As odd as it
may sound, 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 the event 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 2014 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 9th 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 amputees wore prosthetics and some
didnt, but make no mistake, this 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 stroke, paraplegia, parkensans
and polio, just to name a few.
The 2014 Champion
Steve Allberry won the open tournament
using a cross-handed grip.
resident Steve Allberry was the #1, Low Gross, tournament winner
of the 9th Annual Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities.
An amputee who plays with a cross-handed grip, he won Low-Net
in the tournament back in 2011, but now he is the 2014 champion
and his name is also now permanently inscribed on the prestigious
open tournament trophy.
golf instructor, North Florida PGA 2008 "Teacher of the
Year" David Windsor brought several of his students from
the Adaptive Golf Academy to participate in this years
open tournament. Windsor is considered one of the countrys
foremost experts in teaching the physically challenged, or "Adaptive
Golfers". Since 1999, he has developed and instructed adaptive
golf classes on a weekly basis for physically/cognitively challenged
juniors, adults, disabled Veterans and Wounded Warriors, gaining
extensive knowledge and program experience in these processes.
developed the Adaptive Golf Academy in 2006 (www.AdaptiveGolfAcademy.com),
as an education platform to train other PGA Professionals and
Physical/Occupational and Recreational Therapists on the underlying
attributes of the game and how to conduct community programs
with continuity, safety and effectiveness. The Academy has become
the coach training entity for the Adaptive Golf Association,
PGA of America's H.O.P.E. "Helping Our Patriots Everywhere"
program initiative as well as other partner organizations throughout
Adaptive Golf Instructor,
David Windsor presents tournament trophy to 1st Place Winner,
who also volunteers as head of the rules committee for the annual
tournament interviewed several of the players for Florida Golf
Magazines video crew, and while presenting the trophy to
this years tournament winner, Steve Allberry, Dave said,
Youve always brought something interesting to the
game being not only an amputee golfer but also a cross handed
I use a cross-grip, said the tournament champion. I
got that from my Dad, but he was a lefty. I looked at how he
gripped the club and I gripped it the same way and its
been that way ever since. And I suppose, said
Windsor, you have no reason to change now since it works
so well for you. Nope, not at all, said Allberry.
I tried to change once and couldnt hit the ball to
save my life, so I went back to my old grip. Well,
you heard it here, said Windsor, Swing your swing.
Thats right replied the champ.
I had a
phenomenal day, answered Allberry. I was shooting
everything good, driving well; I had one of the best days of
golf of my life.
became an amputee below the left knee in 2007 also said, I
shoot better golf now as an amputee than I did when I had both
his legs. So, added Windsor, I guess
youd say to anyone out there who has lost a limb, whether
it be an arm or leg, dont think it is the end. Thats
right, said Allberry. If you find yourself hurt like
I did, the first thing you gotta do is get your mind right.
Then, pointing to his head he said, The way I look at it
the so-called disability is up here. When I woke up in the hospital
and saw that my leg was gone, the first thing I said to myself
was, I can deal with this, Im not going to let it
stop me, and I can do just as much now as I could before. I go
all out and give 100% and enjoy life, said Allberry.
Florida Golf Magazines
video crew interviewed several of the open tournament participants
at Remington Golf Club on 10/13/14.
Golf Magazines video crew interviewed several participants
including Jerry, a disabled Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder who said, For me, the game of golf has brought
me back into mindfulness, where I stay in the present moment;
dont worry about the past or the last shot, try to think
about the shot thats going on right now. Thats the
cognitive therapy that I do with my therapist; to stay in the
moment. But not only that, it also helps me with my socialization
skills. It helps me so Im not afraid to talk about why
I am here. I mean I know Im not the only one and everyone
here seems to know it as well.
measure of accessibility at the tournament was Seminole, Florida
resident Paul Denardis. Paul, who competed using a Paragolfer
which is a singular all-terrain special mobility device that
lifts people from a sitting position to a standing position.
Paul, a 25 handicapper survived a spinal cord injury in 1970.
In a conscious
effort to be all-inclusive, golfers without disabilities are
also always encouraged to play in this 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 Low Net Awards.
Making an investment
in golfers with disabilities is a well-established trend in todays
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 51.2 million people. More and more
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 very issues.
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. Golf 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.
There 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 Golf
Tournament for Golfers with Disabilities and-or Mobility Challenges.
For more info see www.floridagolfmagazine.com/open
Ray Lindeman, a 24 handicapper
from Tampa who competes using a SoloRyder adaptive golfcart won
1st Place Low-Net at the open tournament. 10/13/14.
Paul Denardis, from Seminole competed using his ParaGolfer, a
singular all-terrain special mobility device that lifts people
from a sitting position to a standing position.