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Page 28-34 From Winter 2011 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.
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The 2010 Florida Open
For Golfers With Disabilities and-or Mobility Challenges
“The goal of the ‘all-inclusive’ open tournament is to “have fun playing golf, while raising
awareness of accessibility issues concerning golfers with disabilities and/or mobility challenges.”

        Golf is the culmination of mind and body integration and while some golfers measure how straight and far they can hit the ball, others measure how hitting the ball enhances their life. 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 can bring 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.
        Known as the Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities, for short, the 5th annual all-inclusive event was held on August 28th, 2010, at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The open tournament was played on the Tom Fazio designed Wanamaker Course at the prestigious PGA Club and was an inspiring success and a lot of fun for all the participants.

Steve Jubb, who is Director of PGA Charities for the PGA Foundation, and a representative of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf made everyone feel at home as he gave the opening address to all of the tournament participants.

South African, Anthony Netto participated in the 2010 Florida Open For Golfers With Disabilities using his adaptive golfcart called a ParaGolfer.

        The aforementioned open tournament was founded in 2006 by Florida Golf Magazine with the help of some initial ‘much needed’ guidance provided by the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. Just as it has been since its inception, this tournament is definitely not-for-profit. The bare-bones entry fee of $50 has always included 18 hole green fees, an award banquet, range balls and prizes. This open tournament raises no money for any cause, nor does it try to get anyone to join any organizations or foundations of any kind. The goal of the ‘all-inclusive’ open tournament has always been to have fun playing golf, while raising awareness of accessibility issues concerning golfers with disabilities and/or mobility challenges.
        For the previous four years this not-for-profit tournament was graciously hosted by the generous folks at Kissimmee Bay Country Club. Bob Baldassarri the General Manager at PGA Village should be commended for volunteering to be involved with the 2010 event. The PGA Club is a prestigious venue and all the players were grateful and very much appreciated its historic significance and its ambiance.
        In 2010, this very international tournament included golfers from the United States, Italy, United Kingdom and South Africa. In total, 46 golfers participated, 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 a blast” playing golf.

Jeff Roulston from San Mateo FL prefers playing from a convertible Golf Cart.

Foursome representing the Amputee Veterans of America Support Team (AVAST)

        Participants of the 5th annual tournament included golfers of all levels of abilities. As in previous years, several members and representatives of the Amputee Veterans of America Support Team (AVAST), Eastern Amputee Golf Association (EAGA), Southern Amputee Golf Association (SAGA) and the National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA) competed in the open tournament, 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, including strokes, paraplegia, and traumatic brain injuries.

        In a conscious effort to be all-inclusive, golfers without disabilities are also always encouraged to play in the open tournament, along with their friends with disabilities, and are eligible to compete for the Overall Low Gross Award, and of course, anyone with a USGA Handicap is also eligible to compete for the Male and Female Low Net Awards. As always the player with the lowest gross got the honor of having their name inscribed on the permanent open tournament trophy.

“Addressing the needs of golfers with disabilities is more than just the right thing to do, it's good business.”

        Making an investment in golfers with disabilities is a hot new trend in the business world, and according to a census bureau report, one in five U.S. residents has a disability. That’s about 18% of the U.S. population or 51.2 million people. More and more people, such as inventors, designers and golf course owners, are now making an effort to address the needs of golfers with disabilities. This tournament lets everyone have a lot of fun while raising awareness of these issues.
        One innovative company that has helped to raise awareness of the issues concerning golfers that are mobility challenged, by sponsoring the all-inclusive 2009, 2010 and next year’s Florida Open For Golfers With Disabilities is Bridgeburg Golf (www.bridgeburggolf.com)
        The compassionate folks at Bridgeburg Golf are the makers of the Turf Chopper; a new three wheeled single rider electric golf cart that weighs only 150 lbs. This new addition to the golf cart arena is compact, quiet, affordable and easy to operate. (See back cover.) Not by coincidence the name was chosen because its unique design resembles a three-wheel motorcycle “chopper”. But that’s where the comparison ends.

Bridgeburg Golf, maker of the versatile Turf Chopper single-rider golf cart sponsored the open tournament.

The Turf Chopper also easily converts to a walk-behind cart caddy, for those wet days when carts are not allowed off the cart-path.

        Billed as “a next generation golf cart,” the Turf Chopper has revolutionized the single-rider concept that is beginning to reshape the industry, and priced at less than $2000, it offers a cart that’s price-point is far below many current options available.
        Weighing in at a mere 150 pounds without rider and clubs, the cart exerts less weight per square inch than conventional and other single rider carts and leaves no discernible footprint. This is a definite plus for greens-keepers and course maintenance.
        Many Florida golf courses will now allow golfers with disabilities to ride these types of lightweight single rider carts onto the putting greens, and for many mobility challenged golfers it is the only way they can get out and play golf.
        Born out of necessity, the Turf Chopper’s inventor experienced debilitating back pain while playing his favorite game. He loved golf but said walking 18 holes was out of the question and riding in a conventional cart only made matters worse. Being determined and resourceful, he set out to build a cart that would adapt to his needs; after several attempts the prototype for the first Turf Chopper came to fruition.
        In 2011 Bridgeburg Golf will once again be a corporate sponsor of the Florida Open For Golfers With Disabilities. They have committed to bring a dozen Turf Chopper’ single rider golf carts for players to use during the tournament.
In 2011, the 6th annual open tournament will again be played at PGA Village on October 15th, 2011 at the prestigious PGA Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Virgil Price, a St Petersburg resident and Treasurer of the National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA), dominated the inaugural tournament in 2006, winning 1st Place overall, scoring a gross 72 on the challenging 18 holes at Kissimmee Bay.

Mike Hudson shot a 75 to win 1st place Overall in the 3rd Annual Florida Open Tournament for Golfers with Disabilities and/or Mobility Challenges held on 7/14/08. Born with only one hand, Mike Hudson is a Volunteer Golf Instructor in Pasco County.

Tampa resident, Monroe Berkman, a polio surviver, won the 2007 Florida Open Tournament for Golfers with Disabilties, playing every shot, including sandtraps from his SoloRider Adaptive Golfcar. Berkman, who shot 80 had no problems hitting out of the bunkers using his stand-up seat to support him during his full golf swing.

Stroke survivor, Ian Halliwel came all the way from England and shot a 74 to win 1st Place Low Gross in the 2009 Florida Open Tournament for Golfers with Disabilties and/ or Mobility Challenges. Now his name is also inscribed on the prestigous Open tournament trophy.

        The 2010 tournament was won by 40 year-old Palm Beach Gardens resident Steve Shipuleski. Shipuleski who shot a gross score of 81 plays golf with one hand, has a 14 handicap, and plays most of the time at the Golf Club of Jupiter. Although he is tall at 5’11”, he says that he shortened and re-gripped all of his own clubs himself. He also says that he was born without the use of his left hand and since he plays golf right handed, and the right hand is normally held lowest by right handed golfers, that shortening the length of the shafts gives him more control.
        Shipuleski also said that he could drive the ball farther by swinging backhanded like a lefty but has more control and finesse with his short game when he swings right handed. So, even though he is capable of playing either way, addressing the ball with a right handed swing is a conscious decision on his part.
        Shipuleski had his golf instructor and caddy, Carter Rodowicz with him and said, “Carter taught me how to play. He’s the best instructor I've ever seen. He played on the Hooter’s Tour years and years ago.”
Master of Ceremonies, David Windsor, PGA, is shown here congratulating Steven Shipuleski, the 1st Place winner of the 2010 Florida Open Golf Tournament for Golfers with Disabilities and/or Mobility Challenges. Shipuleski’s name will be engraved on the permanent tournament trophy with the that of previous winners.
National Adaptive Golf Trainer, David Windsor, PGA, presented his student, Kevin Slucher, a disabled Gulf War Veteran, his Vokey wedges donated by Titleist Golf, for being the Low Net winner of the The 2010 Florida Open Golf Tournament for Golfers with Disabilities and/or Mobility Challenges.

        New Smyrna Beach resident Kevin Slucher, who plays with a 20 handicap won the Male Low Net Award in the tournament with a gross score of 83, and a net-63. Slucher, a disabled Gulf War Veteran, who says he is always in severe and constant pain, has a relatively slow swing speed compared to some golfers. But his syrupy-slow swing, which is as smooth as 12 year old single malt Scotch, (in a Ben Hogan sort of way) was quite effective.
        Mary Corcoran of Melbourne, an 18 handicapper shot a Gross 82, and won the Female Low Net Award with a net-64. Mary played with her husband Bob Corcoran, also an 18 handicapper, who wears a prosthetic leg below one knee.
For being the Female Low Net winner, Mary was presented with a new putter from Master of Ceremonies, David Windsor, PGA, and Founder of the Adaptive Golf Academy (www.AdaptiveGolfAcademy.com), at which point, Mary who already had a putter that she was quite fond of, magnanimously awarded it to her new young friend, seven year-old David Del Purgatorio Jr. in recognition of his accomplishments on the golf course that day.
Mary Corcoran of Melbourne, an 18 handicapper shot a Gross 82, and won the Female Low Net Award, a putter, but then gave it as a gift to 7 year-old David Del Purgatorio Jr. in recognition of his acomplishments on the golf course that day. At age 7, David Del Purgatorio Jr. was the youngest player in the open tournament.

        Very much impressed with the tournament and all its participants, David Purgatorio Sr. said that as far as he was concerned, the experience was priceless for his son David Purgatorio Sr. “When Dave Windsor first invited us to participate in the tournament,” he said, “I didn’t know how my seven year-old son was going to react. Being so very young made him different than everybody else, so he was in the same boat that they were, yet no one looked at him funny. That was very cool. David felt like he was just one of the group and that was truly great. We had a ball, I can't wait to do it again next year.”

        Although all the participants got along famously, the ever-present “Pace of Play” issue raised its ugly head in this year’s tournament. And, since the Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities is a groundbreaking ‘all-inclusive’ golf tournament, what better place is there to address the controversial issue?
        In-a-nutshell, the tournament’s official response to the controversial pace of place quagmire was; to wait for the last group to get in but, in an all-out effort to be all-inclusive, at next year’s tournament we will also have voluntary early tee times a full hour before the normal 8:00 am shotgun start. So, in the 2011 open tournament on Oct. 15th, 2011 at Long Marsh Golf Club, if you think you or someone in your foursome might be a “jist a wee-bit slow,” it is suggested that your foursome starts at 7:00 am.
        At that point, everyone relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful lunch that was prepared by the kind folks at the PGA Club, and waited for the last team to finish their round. As it turns out the last foursome was slowed by the 2010 tournament’s only TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) survivor Charles Manning Brugh, also know as “Brew”.
        Brew, who was more than just the open tournament’s token TBI survivor, was thought by many to be one of the most noteworthy golfers at the tournament. You see, although Brew walks and talks slow and methodically due to his TBI, he is really a very articulate writer and had previously written a very moving and informative piece that was published in the Winter 2010 issue of Florida Golf Magazine about what the open tournament meant to him.
        Therefore, most everyone knew Brew and knew how important playing and counting every stroke was to him. What’s more, Ian Halliwell, the winner of last years open tournament, who had come all the way from the U.K. just to defend his title, had also taken it upon himself just as he had done in the previous year’s tournament, to be Brew’s mentor, coach and personal English caddy. Therefore, if everyone wanted to wait for the defending champion to finish, they also had to wait for his ‘best chum’, Brew.
        The defending champion, Ian Halliwell, who is a stroke survivor and a 17 handicapper, is also a renown world traveler and staunch supporter for the Stroke Association in the U.K., and to truly appreciate his remarkable friend for who he is a steadfast caddy, you must read the following brief excerpts that are reprinted here from Ian’s June 2009 internet blog.

        The Social Golfer is a travel and golf journal, web-site, and blog written by avid golfer and stroke survivor, Ian Halliwell, about his recovery and tireless fund-raising around the world for The Stroke Association. (www.stroke.org.uk)

Excerpts from ‘The Social Golfer’ Blog www.thesocialgolfer.blogspot.com
Written by Ian Halliwell, Tuesday, 23 June 2009

        I leave this trip with the story of the guy who inspired me most. I thought I had it difficult till I read this letter from him, and I offer it as encouragement to all individuals who suffer illness and disability, and to all of us who are feeling down because of the economic climate as a reality check as to what is important.

From Charles Brugh: bruha_2121@yahoo.com
To: Ian Halliwell:
        “I'm unclear what I’ve told you previously about me and my injuries (I have declarative & procedural memory deficits). Your remarkable recovery from stroke is truly inspiring. I am amazed and impressed. I have already directed a stroke survivor’s family to your web-site (the stroke survivor is still unable to communicate). Like you, the survivor was an avid golfer pre-stroke.
        I always enjoy any activity in which I choose to participate. Having said that, I’d like to explain my additional motivations for avid participation in adaptive athletics in general, and specifically the great sport of golf (!) I am a severe Traumatic Brain Injury survivor. Due to diffuse axonal shearing, MOST structures in my complex neural network were greatly impaired. Resulting from a near-fatal automobile accident in March of 1990, I've used diverse adaptive athletics to recover from MASSIVE brain damage for almost two decades.
        For the last 19+ years I’ve retaught myself to walk, talk, swallow, feed myself, bathe myself, read, write, THINK, I was legally blind for a period, I was paralyzed from the neck down at one point, the eclectic list is long and sordid. I have no doubt your experience with stroke produced similar challenges.
        I’m rebuilding my once decimated brain, neuron by neuron – synapse by synapse. I am doing so through copious independent study on numerous topics, and ardent participation in multiple diverse athletics. Rigorous engagement in adaptive sport promotes regrowth of neurons (neurogenesis) and rewiring (neuroplasticity) of my once decimated brain.
        I attempted golf soon after I was released from the rehabilitation hospital. In ’91-’92 the golf swing was far too complex for my damaged brain to comprehend, let alone execute! I have worked, hard, for the last 19+ years to rehabilitate so I may return to the great sport of golf.
        A multi-sport athlete, I could have chosen to apply for a number of 'tools' (sports equipment) to further my neurologic rehabilitation. I chose golf. Armed with a generous Challenged Athletes Foundation equipment grant, I selected, and was custom fit, for Ping G10's. As a survivor of severe brain trauma, the great game of golf is a pinnacle of mind/body integration. The 2009 Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities, in which I had my #1 English caddy guiding and encouraging me, marked my official return to golf.
        I consider golf the equivalent of a graduate degree from a prestigious university for neurologic rehabilitation. Though an avid golfer pre-TBI, I know I’m a ‘newbie’ to golf and have much to relearn and perfect. I’m thrilled, after almost two decades of intense rehabilitation, to have finally begun my reintroduction to golf. I intend to go as far as I can through golf as a as therapeutic modality Though I have much to relearn, I have (finally) reached a point where I may again pursue the great game of golf!

Charles Manning Brugh, AKA ‘Brew’

        Without incredible challenge, a person is unable to achieve incredible success. This I am sure you will all agree is a tremendous story and truly reflects what the human body and mind can achieve. My achievements pale into insignificance. I am humbled in his presence, I hope we remain good friends, in good health, and that I can be a little part of his continued remarkable story.
        Meeting people like Charles (aka Brew) makes my campaign for stroke awareness all the more worthwhile. I hope that he his able to join up with me when I hit Florida on my Round the World Trip next year.

Ian Halliell, ‘The Social Golfer’ June 2009

Foursome of Winners: Tournament winner Steven Shipuleski and his instructor-caddy, Carter Rodowicz are seen here on the left with fellow tournament participants EAGA Member Tom Walters, stroke survivor and 2009 Champion-Ian Halliwell, and Traumatic Brain Injury survivor Charles Manning Brugh.

        Finally, 5+ hours after the shotgun start of the 2010 Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities, the last foursome meandered in and it turned out the winner of this year's tournament, Steven Shipuleski, was playing with Ian, Brew and Tom.
        That is when Tom Walters suggested the foursome should start an hour early next year. When Tom, who played with Ian and Brew in the 2009 Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities at Kissimmee Bay, was asked if he wanted to play with the same foursome next year, he said he preferred playing with them because they were his friends. When the new 2010 champion, Steven Shipuleski, was also asked if he wanted to play in the same foursome next year Steven said: "If I have a chance to play with those three guys next year, I'd love to play with them again. Those guys were great! Brew was inspiring. He never gave up, he kept pushing and pushing. That's what we're here for, to support one another. Brew is great."
        Being the unstoppable positive thinker that he is, Brew informed us he is looking for sponsorship to help him in his quest to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. In regard to being the only TBI survivor to have played in the tournament, Brew added, "I consider it a badge of honor to be the only Traumatic Brain Injury survivor playing in the Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities. While proud of that distinction, I am also a little disheartened. I would like to see more TBI survivors playing golf, not because it's a sport they can do in spite of brain injury, but because golf, played consistently as part of an overall therapeutic regimen, will help individuals recover from Traumatic Brain Injury - I'm living proof."
        So, the moral of this story might very well be: 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 for Golfers with Disabilities.

        For info about next year’s tournament visit www.floridagolfmagazine.com/open or call 863-227-2751.

Page 28-34 From Winter 2011 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at floridagolfmagazine.com/subscribe
To advertise in Florida Golf Magazine in print and on-line, phone 863-227-2751 and/or email joestine@floridagolfmagazine.com