Disabled golfers hit the course

By Katie Herrera

A special group of golfers hit the greens at Highland Park Golf Course Saturday. It was the First Swing Golf Clinic, which provides specialized golf training to people with disabilities and therapists.

Robert Wilson, a double leg amputee, lost his legs during his time in the NAVY. But he never let that stop his golf game. He started the First Swing Golf Clinic in the 1980s to help other people with disabilities learn – or relearn – the game of golf.

"If I can help one person get back in life or get off the couch or whatever, then I've done my job," said Wilson.

Saturday about 20 clinician participated in the clinic, learning how to use golf as a form of therapy and rehabilitation. And about 20 patients were there learning to swing.

"If they can come out, and we can get them to hit a golf ball, there's no limitations," said Wilson.

"The way they put it, a disability is just a possibility," said Bryan Kite, a lower leg amputee. Kite lost his foot after a car wreck in 2003.

"The things before that I wouldn't do, I try to do now. I try harder, not to out do other people, but to outdo myself," said Kite.

It was Kite's first time to ever pick up a club, but by the end of the clinic, he had his drive down pat.

"Who knows, I might even go on tour," said Kite.

BioTech Limb & Brace was a sponsor of the event. The company makes prosthetic limbs for amputees and specialized equipment to help patients stay active.

"We have ways of adapting golf to their disabilities. Some people can do it out of a wheel chair. Some people are doing it with one arm, one prosthesis, two prostheses," said Eric Eisenberg, owner of BioTech Limb & Brace. "It's quite embarrassing. They can hit the ball better than I can."

"When the ball goes airborn, you'll never forget the look on the persons face. It's 'omg' and 'wow.' And I've got 28 years of 'omg's.' And it keeps me going," said Wilson.

First Swing Golf Clinic is a national program, provided at no cost to participants.

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