From Pages 13 - 15 - Winter 2015 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved

The 2014 Florida Open Tournament For
Golfers With Disabilities and/or Mobility Challenges

  by Joe Stine, Editor FGM

Defending Champion, Palm Beach Garden residant Steven Shipuleski won the Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities tournament in 2013.

Long time member of the East Amputee Golf Association, John Barton from Palm Beach Gardens also plays golf with a one-handed swing.

“The 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.”

        The 2014 Florida 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.
        This not-for-profit 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.
        Participants 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 didn’t, 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, parkensan’s and polio, just to name a few.

The 2014 Champion
Steve Allberry won the open tournament using a cross-handed grip.

        Tampa 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.
        Allberry’s 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 year’s open tournament. Windsor is considered one of the country’s 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.
        Windsor also developed the Adaptive Golf Academy in 2006 (, 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 the country.

Adaptive Golf Instructor, David Windsor presents tournament trophy to 1st Place Winner, Steve Allberry

        Windsor, who also volunteers as head of the rules committee for the annual tournament interviewed several of the players for Florida Golf Magazine’s video crew, and while presenting the trophy to this year’s tournament winner, Steve Allberry, Dave said, “You’ve always brought something interesting to the game being not only an amputee golfer but also a cross handed golfer.”

        “Yeah, 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 it’s 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 couldn’t 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.” “That’s 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.”
        Allberry, who 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 you’d say to anyone out there who has lost a limb, whether it be an arm or leg, don’t think it is the end.” “That’s 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, I’m 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 Magazine’s video crew interviewed several of the open tournament participants at Remington Golf Club on 10/13/14.

        Florida Golf Magazine’s 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; don’t worry about the past or the last shot, try to think about the shot that’s going on right now. That’s 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 I’m not afraid to talk about why I am here. I mean I know I’m not the only one and everyone here seems to know it as well.”
        Another great 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 today’s business world, and according to a census bureau report, one in five U.S. residents has a disability. That’s 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 golfer’s swing is a very personal thing, much like one’s 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

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.

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