Participants in an adaptive golf program for Veterans living with limb amputations
Friday, October 26, 2012
The greens of the Westchester Country Club in Brynwood, NY, have been played by many well known golfers – Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh – but this week, there were some new golfers on the course under the fall leaves.
VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, V3 Prosthetics, VA Adaptive Sports and VA Hudson Valley hosted the first Veterans on Par, an adaptive golf program for Veterans living with limb amputations. The event, a three-day clinic, took place this month at both VA's Manhattan campus and the Westchester Country Club.
The events included a full motion swing analysis, putting instruction, and time at the driving range, which was rounded out with an exercise station. Club golf pros and Prosthetics staff were on hand to help the Veterans- half of whom had never picked up a golf club before.
“This event is new and we focused on prosthetic users and Veterans with limb loss,” noted Leif Nelson, Prosthetics Clinical Coordinator. In addition to lessons, the clinic provided each Veteran with a set of clubs so they can continue their practice beyond program.
Cesar Jimenez is one such new golfer. A below-the-knee amputee, Jimenez had never even considered golf as a pastime. “With the old prosthetic, I didn’t want to do anything that required any long distance walking,” he said, noting that the old device wore away at his skin. With his new device, he said, there’s nothing he won’t try. “The new prosthetic is so much better, so much lighter- I took up ice skating at 51.”
For Jimenez, who has a competitive streak, golf is right up his alley. “I love anything where I can practice to get better. I have to get it. This game is for me,” he said.
Army Veteran Artie McAuley started playing golf two months ago. A full arm amputee, McAuley can’t get enough of the sport. “I went to an event two months ago with nothing but a sand wedge. I got paired up with a guy who set me up with a whole new set of clubs,” he said, a big smile brimming under his cap. “When I’m on the golf course, I’m smiling from the first tee to the last. Then I’m smiling after because I had such a good day.”The experience was just as rewarding for the staff on hand. Colin Thomas, an Army Veteran and golfer at the Club said, “It’s great to see the smile on their faces. These guys have been through a lot and it’s great to give them something to strive for on the golf course.”