Winter 2016 Florida Golf Magazine© Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved


Left: 4th Place Net Winner Steve Shipuleski and 3rd Place Net Winner Tom Walters watch the 2015 Low-Gross Champion Gary Hooks putt out during the “all inclusive” Florida Open Tournament for Golfers with Disabilities and-or Mobility Challenges which took place at Kissimmee Bay Country Club in Kissimmee, Florida on 10/10/2015.

(pictured here) Executive Director of the National Alliance of Accessible Golf, Steve Jubbs spoke at the 2015 tournament opening ceremony.
For info about the upcoming Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities see
The 2015 Florida Open Tournament For Golfers With Disabilities and-or Mobility Challenges

written by Joe Stine, Editor FGM

        No two golfers are exactly alike; hence, no two swings are exactly alike. 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. The 10th annual meeting of this all-inclusive golf tournament was held on October 10th, 2015, at Kissimmee Bay Country Club in beautiful Kissimmee, Florida. The 2015 open tournament was played on Kissimmee Bay’s prestigious Clifton, Ezell & Clifton deigned golf course, and was an inspiring success and a lot of fun for all the participants.
        This non-profit annual event was founded in 2006 by Florida Golf Magazine with the help of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. The goal of the tournament has always been to have fun playing golf, while raising awareness of accessibility issues concerning golfers with disabilities and/or mobility challenges.
        The Executive Director of the National Alliance of Accessible Golf, Steve Jubbs was on hand to speak to the players at the opening ceremony.
        An eclectic field of golfers participated in the tournament, rallying 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.

Pictured here, competing in 2015, Steve Shipuleski, an 8 handicapper from Palm Beach Gardens who golfs one-handed won the open tournament in 2010 & 2013. Rick Fulk, a 25 handicapper from Freeport FL. played in the tournament with a beautiful one-handed swing.
        Participants of the 10th annual tournament included golfers of all levels of abilities and disabilities. As in previous years, several members and representatives of the Eastern Amputee Golf Association (EAGA) competed, some of whom wore prosthetics and some who didn’t. 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.
        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 of course, anyone with a USGA Handicap is also eligible to compete for the Low Net Awards.

2015 Champion Gary Hooks shot one over par winning the Low Gross award.

Gary Hooks’ name has now been inscribed on the permanent tournament trophy.

The 2015 Champion, Gary Hooks
        The 2015 championship was won by 62 year-old New Smyrna Beach resident Gary Hooks who shot a gross score of one-under par. Hooks, who played with an eight handicap the day of the open tournament was also a contestant in the 2015 Remax ParaLong Drive Nationals in Mesquite, Nevada.
        Gary, who has played in several previous “Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities” has never won the championship tournament until 2015. “I like to support this tournament whenever I can,” said Hooks. “My travel schedule keeps me from doing a lot of things, but when I’m in town if I can support it, I do it.”
        “Whenever I can,” continued Hooks, “I try to support anything that will help put issues concerning physically challenged people at the forefront of exposure. If I’m around then I do, I support it. It’s not like I’m trying to win or anything, I’m trying support it. You know the more exposure we can get at this tournament, the more people it’s going to reach that may not know that there is a world outside of being physically challenged.”
        "I've been an amputee for 46 years," said Hooks. "Since I was 16 years old."
        Mr. Hooks, who works for world renowned prosthesis manufacturer, Ottobock as a Senior Sales Specialist said, "I train practitioners how to fit and use Ottobock’s prosthesis technologies, and I specialize in socket design, which is to me the most critical part of any prosthesis. It's like a good fitting pair of shoes, if you're not comfortable in your shoes, you're not going to walk much. So designing a custom socket for each individual limb is where you get the biggest benefit."
        “You know,” said Hooks, “it is easy for us to get fit by one practitioner and then whatever you deal with, from that prosthesis you have a tendency to think, 'Well, that's just the way it is, they are all the same. But most often that is not the case, because there are different technologies that work for different people depending on what their lifestyle is. It's all about the comfort level of the socket. Who couldn't benefit from better balance and better comfort?”

Miami resident, Juan Ordonez plays with a 28 handicap.  Tom Walters, an 18 handicapper, lives at The Villages.  25 handicapper, Wayne Linde also lives in Miami.

        After helping a fellow player, and member of the Eastern Amputee Golf Association (EAGA) with his prosthesis, Hooks told Florida Golf Magazine, “As far as amputees and prosthetics are concerned, one of the greatest things about tournaments like this is the ability of your peers to see what kind of technology you're wearing, and could it be something that would benefit them.
        There are so many systems out there for people to wear that a lot of times it seems like we are at the mercy of our practitioner and what they are fitting you with. So then when you get an opportunity to play in a tournament like this and you see what other people are wearing it is a welcomed new resource to network and learn and experience things that you otherwise wouldn't have experienced.”
        Hooks offered advice for someone who might be struggling with a physical challenge. He said, “Life is about changes. Whether you wake one day with a pulled muscle in your back or perhaps a stiff neck, life is a series of adjustments that we all go through, and especially as you change in age. Anytime something changes you from what your normal pattern is, there is an adjustment that has to be made. And with all the social networking that goes on nowadays, I think the key is to reach out to people in order to find out what you are able to do, and what help is out there for you.”
        “I do a lot of "First Swing" clinics with people who have lost limbs, or are stroke victims, or just anything like that where life has just thrown you a curve ball, and the great thing about golf is that it is an adaptive sport. There is no such thing as a perfect swing, and it is important to just go out with realistic expectations in order to find the things that you can still enjoy. For a lot of people a successful round of golf means not losing a ball, not so much what you shoot.

        Losing a limb is not the end of the road. Just like this tournament, it is an opportunity to reach out and network with people who will help you get back into the game at some level.
        I would encourage everybody that goes through a change in their life to reach out, and realize, that no matter what's wrong with you, there are tons of people that have the same challenges and have already been through the learning curve, so you don't have to go it alone.”

2015 Tournament Official, Judy Alverez, PGA

Injuries, Disabilities & Golf

        The open tournament’s PGA Official, Judy Alverez said, “Regardless of your injury or disability, golf on some modified level, lends itself to your situation. There are many alternative ways to swing a club and play a “version” of the game. For those with lower back pain like myself, there are ways to modify your swing - which for me, took some getting used to, but it was worth it. I admit, my swing looks different and my finish is altered, but this was better than not playing at all. Remember, the ball has no idea who is swinging the club and what your swings looks like. The ball only reacts to the club face at the moment of truth.”


For info about the upcoming Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities see

The top eight players of the 2015 Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities and or Mobility Challenges, 10,10,2015 . Left-to-right, “The Winners” Steve Shipuleski - 4th Place Net, Tom Walters - 3rd Place Net, “Tournament Official” Judy Alverez PGA, Rick Fulk - Low Net, Juan Ordonez - 2nd Place Net, Lynn Glover - 2nd Place Net Female, Stacy Sollisch - Low Net Female, Gary Hooks-Low Gross 2015 Champion, and Wayne Linde - 5th Place Net. At the far right stands Steve Jubbs - Exec. Dir. of the NAAG.

For info about the upcoming Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities see


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