Golf is a great game that allows you to enjoy being outdoors while getting some light exercise and a chance to spend quality time with friends. However, if you have recently become disabled due to an accident or illness, you may feel overwhelmed and not sure how to start playing again.
Whether you’re recently disabled or if you’ve had mobility issues your whole life, you’ll be happy to know that golf is actually a highly adaptable sport and one of the many sports that can be enjoyed by wheelchair users. It just takes a little know-how on how to get started.
How To Get Started
The American Disabled Golfers Association (ADGA) is a great place to start. They believe golf should not be limiting and that everyone can enjoy the game. By working with golf courses around the world, the ADGA makes it easier for you to get the tools you need to play.
Look into devices that will help you master the game. Many golf courses are carrying accessible wheelchairs designed for playing golf, gloves to help you grip the club, and clubs that vary in length to accommodate your reach.
Another great organization is the United States Adaptive Golf Alliance or USAGA. This nonprofit's mission is to help people who are differently-abled get the skills and equipment necessary to play the game. They even have a mobile app that can help you find playing partners and keep you posted on the latest upcoming tournaments.
Golf for Everyone
Golf is a great game for all ages and can be played wherever you live and whatever your level of ability. There are an estimated 11,280 courses in the United States according to the Census Bureau. Many courses offer classes to teach beginner students.
Because golf has become very popular with young people, more and more schools are offering golf instruction in physical education classes or as a school sport.
If your child has a disability, talk with your student’s teacher and other members of their individualized educational placement (IEP) team. If you run into roadblocks, you may want to meet with the IEP team and go over your child’s rights to participate. Most schools will be eager to make necessary changes so that your child can have fun with their classmates.
Adaptations for golf may include using a club with a larger head, using a larger ball, and/or using a tee for all shots. If your child uses a wheelchair, have them partner with a student who can place the ball in an appropriate spot.
Additionally, if your child excels at the game, placing them on a competitive team will give their confidence a boost. Golf as a college sport often has scholarship money available to help pay a student’s tuition.
Dealing With Pain
Golf sometimes requires a large range of motion or moving your body in ways that are difficult. If you are struggling with chronic pain, it may be worthwhile to talk to your doctor about finding a natural treatment that you can use in addition to your current treatments. Maintaining the will to participate in sports can be difficult when chronic pain is in the way, but seeking additional pain relief can help immensely.
Chronic pain can occur at any time in your life. It is often the result of injuries or long-term illnesses. Sometimes an old injury can rear its ugly head and come back to cause you pain in that same spot. Managing the pain so that you can enjoy your life is crucial. There are many ways to relieve pain including prescription medications, physical therapy, diet and alternative therapies.
CBD oil is a new therapy that is very promising in managing chronic pain. It is derived from the cannabis (hemp) plant, and there have been several studies where CBD oil has proven beneficial in controlling and relieving pain.
Everyone who plays golf must adhere to the rules of golf etiquette. These rules are simply good manners that allow for everyone to have a good time while being respectful of other players. By following these rules, you will be a welcome player on any course the world over.
Basic rules include showing up early for your tee time so that others are not waiting. Be considerate of other players by not talking when they are lining up and completing their shot. Typically, the person whose ball is furthest from the hole will go first on each round.
One rule that affects every player is don't drink and drive. Driving a golf cart requires the same level of alertness and acuity as driving a car. Drinking alcoholic beverages while out on the course is not safe and can get you a DUI ticket.
Prepare For The Game
Golf is no different from any other sport. It is going to have you move your body in new and strange ways. This may initially cause some soreness. Golf can cause soreness in your shoulders and wrists from swinging the club.
Warm-up before every game. Depending on your fitness abilities, you can walk, do arm circles, and knee bends. In addition, there is simple range of motion exercises that will help keep your body supple during the game. Arm swings, trunk twists, and side bends will help keep your body flexible.
Prepare for your golf game by doing some stretches. This will help warm up your muscles and increase flexibility. Stretching also helps increase circulation and improve posture.
Work with your physical therapist or medical professional. They can help you develop some exercises that will develop strength and coordination. This will help you to be a better player and have more confidence out on the course.
Need Some Inspiration
Everyone loves to follow famous athletes and some of their stories are inspirational. Adaptive golf is no different. Many well-known golf players with top rankings are differently-abled.
Kenny Bontz is a nationally ranked golfer and amputee. Kenny is a decorated Army veteran who lost part of his right leg while stationed in Iraq. Bontz uses a prosthetic leg and has been playing competitive golf for the past 11 years. Bontz’s goal is to become the first amputee to play on the PGA Champions Tour.
Tricia Downing is a wheelchair athlete who plays several competitive sports from her wheelchair. Downing was a varsity high school and college athlete before she was hit by a car while riding a bike. Her organization now runs a camp that specializes in teaching young women who are in wheelchairs various skills and helping them play sports, including golf.
Golf is a game that is available to everyone, including persons with physical and mental disabilities. It’s a highly adaptable sport with many tools available that are allowed to be used in competitive play to assist a person with a disability. Golf will give you the opportunity to get outside, enjoy time with friends, and get some exercise. If that sounds good to you, try it out!
Image credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/ufcDM0ApEBs