Bob Cole: Getting back to golf
“What do you have to lose? Go out and do something. There are a lot of people like you out there. Now you can play when it’s convenient for you.”– Bob Cole
For 20 years Bob Cole, 63, has organized a fun golf tournament for family and friends to enjoy. “It was a way to thank everyone who helped build my house on Seneca Lake,” he says.
However, in 2007, Bob didn’t think he would ever be able to play golf again. His transverse myelitis – a progressive disease of the spine – had worsened to the point where he couldn’t stand, and needed to use a wheelchair full-time. For five years he didn’t play golf.
In 2011, however, his recreational therapist at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Strong Hospital told him about SportsNet’s golf program and adaptive golf carts. Soon after, Bob called SportsNet’s Anita O’Brien and arranged to try out an adaptive cart. Once in the cart, he spun the seat around, leaned forward, and swung a club with his one strong arm for the first time in years.
“It was a phenomenal feeling to just go out and play a few holes with a cart,” says Bob.
SportsNet exists to help people like Bob stay active or return to an active lifestyle. Regardless of a person’s age, skill level, or ability, SportsNet makes golf accessible by providing the right equipment, such as golf clubs and adaptive carts.
How adaptive carts work
A golf player is secured into an adaptive cart with a strap while seated. The seat swivels, enabling the player to stand up with the backs of knees pressed against the seat, eliminating the fear of falling over. Like Bob Cole, a person can also stay seated and lean forward to swing a club, using one or both arms.
“Players can golf an entire course from an adaptive cart and not worry about slowing play down,” says Rochester Rehabilitation’s Nancy Steinkamp. “They don’t have to get in and out of a cart, so the pace of play actually increases,” says Nancy.
SportsNet’s adaptive golf carts – three single carts and one double cart – are designed to go out on the green and not damage the course. Over the years, SportsNet has worked with many golf professionals who are associated with a variety of area golf clubs. SportsNet has been pleased to work with Executive South Golf Center and Eagle Vale Golf Club on a consistent basis.
This summer, the carts are located at the Eagle Vale Golf Club, a scenic public golf course located at 4344 Nine Mile Point Road in Fairport where SportsNet also holds its golf clinics and scrambles. “Having adaptive golf carts available on both public and private golf courses enables anyone to golf in an emotionally safe environment,” says Anita O’Brien, SportsNet Manager.
The secret to golfing at any age
“Golf is hard already,” says Eagle Vale’s head PGA professional Chris DeVincentis. “It’s even harder when seated in a cart.”
Chris, who has been involved with SportsNet’s adaptive golf program for the past 14 years, believes the secret to golfing at any age is flexibility.
“You don’t need a lot of strength in golf,” says Chris. “Golf is about timing and rhythm. “Look at the players in the LPGA. There are many petite women playing golf at the highest level. They can hit a ball as far as some men because of their flexibility.”
"Don’t over-analyze," cautions Chris, who advises golfers to try not to think about the hundreds of things to do before you swing a club. “One plus one equals two,” says Chris. “Golf is about one or two little things.”
Getting social with golf clinics and scrambles
What better way to meet new people who are either trying to golf for the first time or looking to get back into golfing after a stroke, injury, hip or knee replacement, or another type of health condition?
SportsNet has offered adaptive golf clinics and golf scrambles since 2004. While many folks who attend clinics are older adults with mobility challenges, anyone at any level can try out golf. “All it takes,” says Anita, “is a spirit of fun, and a willingness to learn.”
An essential part of each golf clinic is an assessment. During SportsNet golf clinics at Eagle Vale, Chris’s goal is to help players understand what they have and what they need to focus on. “I look at each person and we work together to determine how much range of motion they have,” says Chris. “And then I try to tailor something that helps them, based on their individual needs and abilities.”
In addition to providing a solid introduction to the game of golf, Chris offers tips and drills for all the different facets of the game. He's also on hand to answer any questions that players may have.
The way a golf scramble works is that each player tees off on each hole. The best of the tee shots is selected and all players play their second shots from that spot. The best of the second shots is determined, and then all play their third shots from that spot, and continues on until the ball is holed. “It’s great fun and a perfect time to work on your golf skills,” says Anita.
While many people know that keeping active is important to their overall health and well-being, interacting with others and trying something new is equally as important.
Because Bob has access to SportsNet adaptive golf carts, now he can play golf with his family. “It’s exciting to be with a foursome playing golf instead of sitting in a parking lot.” says Bob. “SportsNet is a great program.”
Still unsure about golf? Bob’s advice is to get out and try: “What do you have to lose? Go out and do something. There are a lot of people like you out there. Now you can play when it’s convenient for you.”
Click here to learn more about SportsNet’s summer golf offerings. To find out more about how SportsNet can better serve golf courses and players with adaptive golf carts, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 585.271.1894 extension 1742.