goal of this all-inclusive open tournament is to
have fun playing golf, while raising awareness of accessibility
issues concerning golfers with disabilities and/or mobility challenges.
is an individual sport that breeds unique characters. No two
golfers are exactly alike; hence, no two swings are exactly alike.
It is said that a golfers swing is a very personal thing,
much like ones religion. Each golfer must learn to repeat
a swing that moves the clubhead into impact in the most consistent
manner possible based on his own body and what it can do. Golf
is the culmination of mind and body integration and 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 brings 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.
The 6th annual contesting of this all-inclusive golf tournament
was held on October 15th, 2011, at Long Marsh Golf Club in Rotonda
West, Florida. The 2011 open tournament was played on Long Marsh
Golf Clubs prestigious Ted McAnlis designed White Marsh
& PineValley Courses, and was an inspiring success and a
lot of fun for all the participants.
This annual 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.
folks at Long Marsh Golf Club very graciously hosted this not-for-profit
tournament and course owner, Bill Stine should be commended for
volunteering to be involved with the 2011 event. Long Marsh is
a prestigious venue and all the players were grateful and very
much appreciated the conditioning of the course and its ambiance.
The 2012 open tournament is already scheduled for October 13,
2012 and will take place at Kissimmee Bay Country Club, which
is another golf course owned by Bill Stine.
In 2011, this
very international tournament included golfers from the United
States, Italy, and United Kingdom. An eclectic field of 41 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 fun playing golf.
of the 2009 open tournament, Ian Halliwell came all the way from
to play in the 2011 Florida Open Tournament for Golfers with
of the 6th annual tournament included golfers of all levels of
abilities and disabilities. 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 didnt. 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 this 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 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.
the needs of golfers with disabilities is more than just the
right thing to do, it's good business.
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. Thats about
18% of the U.S. population or 56.3 million people with disabilities.
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 all-inclusive open tournament
allows everyone have a lot of fun while raising awareness of
winner, Dale Dawson (in red) played in the tournament with his
friend John Barton, (seen here wearing Dales invention,
The Release,) and David Del Purgatorio Sr. and David
Del Purgatorio Jr. At age 8, David Del Purgatorio Jr. was the
youngest golfer in the tournament for the second year in a row.
2011 Champion, Dale
The 2011 tournament
was won by 47 year-old Palm Beach Gardens resident, Dale Dawson,
who shot a gross score of 71. Dale is currently a scratch golfer
and plays golf most of the time at the Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter,
Florida, and he has an interesting story that very much exemplifies
the type of message and spirit that this open tournament tries
About eight years
ago, Dale became very ill with convulsions cause by debilitating
brain tumors. Though they were not deemed cancerous, they incapacitated
him and caused him to have tremors that left him unable to play
golf. Then, five years ago while his doctors experimented with
drugs to control his symptoms, Dale took it upon himself to invent
a device he now calls The Release to assist in retraining
himself to play golf again after not being able play for 2 plus
Dale Dawson told
us, The overall design of the device is inspired by exoskeleton
science and bio mechanics. The device simply attaches to the
outside of the golfers arm and helps to ingrain the proper bio
mechanics to create a very efficient and powerful golf swing.
member of the East Amputee Golf Association, John Barton is shown
here teeing off in the tournament using The Release,
a golf training device invented by Dale Dawson. Dawson, who won
the 2011 tournament is seen above in the background.
with one arm, John Barton from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida is
shown here using Dale Dawsons invention called The
Release during the open tournament.
Five long years
later Dale is doing much better. His doctors now have his tremors
under control with medication; whats more hes perfected
his invention and is helping others with it. Dawson, now a scratch
golfer uses his invention, called The Release to
work with his friend John Barton, a long time member of the East
Amputee Golf Association. Barton had been training with the device
for a few weeks before the open tournament and also played in
the tournament using it. Barton, a one armed golfer who has competed
in the Florida Open for Golfers with Disabilities
for the last five years in a row, swears by The Release.
He says it helps him develop muscle memory.
Dale Dawson says
that he has started a new company with his golf instructor PGA
Master Professional Warren Bottke, called Da Vinci Sports International
Inc., and they will soon start marketing The Release
at www.godavincisports.com Dale also said that with Warrens
help, one product has grown into a collection of 5 products that
can be used to help able body golfers and golfers
with disabilities. Dale or Warren can be contacted at email@example.com
his name engraved on the permanent tournament trophy, Dale also
was presented with a new Titleist 910D Driver by Master of Ceremonies,
David Windsor, PGA, of the Adaptive Golf Academy for winning
the Low Gross award.
8 year-old David Del Purgatorio Jr.
Very much impressed
with the tournament and all its participants for the second year
in a row, David Del Purgatorio Sr. said that as far as he was
concerned, the experience was priceless for his son David Del
Purgatorio Jr. When Dave Windsor first invited us to participate
in last years tournament, he said, I didnt
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. Just like last year, young David Jr. felt like
he was just one of the group and that was truly great. We had
a ball; I cant wait to do it again next year.
in the open tournament, stroke survivor Ian Halliwell (from U.K.)
simultaneously coaches his friend. Ian is seen here acting as
caddie and mentor to his "mucker" (best chum) Charles
Brugh from Orange Park, Florida, who is a Traumatic Brain Injury
Charles Manning Brugh,
All the participants
got along very wonderfully, and since there were voluntary early
tee times provided, (a full hour before the normal 8:00 am shotgun
start) for any foursome who thought they might be a wee bit slow,
Pace of Play was not an issue either this year. At
the open tournament back in 2010, we learned that some players
very deservedly needed a little more time. In particular the
tournaments only TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) survivor
Charles Manning Brugh, also know as Brew.
Brew, who is
more than just the open tournaments token TBI survivor,
is 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 has previously written very moving and informative articles
that were published in Florida Golf Magazine about what the open
tournament has meant to him.
and counting every stroke was is so important to Brew, his foursome
teed off at 7am. Ian Halliwell, the winner of the 2009 open tournament,
who had once again come all the way from the U.K. just to play
in the open tournament, had also taken it upon himself just as
he had done in the 2009 & 2010 tournaments, to be Brews
playing partner, mentor, coach and personal English caddy. Therefore,
Brew gets better and a little faster every year.
competing in the open tournament, stroke survivor Ian Halliwell
simultaneously acts as caddie and mentor to his "mucker"
(best chum) Traumatic Brain Injury survivor, Charles Brugh.
Ian Halliwell (Representing
For some of the
participants, the annual golf tournament is a chance to look
within and hopefully widen the scope of their abilities. For
others its more of an opportunity to look outside of their
own selves and learn by focusing on the issues concerning their
fellow golfers. Stroke survivor, and the 2009 1st place tournament
winner, Ian Halliwell always does a little of both.
who had initially lost the use of the left side of his body,
due to a stroke, said that back in 2009 he was most positively
influenced and encouraged to win by his playing partner in the
tournament who was a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor. I
am humbled in his presence, said Halliwell of his playing
partner, Charles Brugh. I hope we remain good friends,
in good health, and that I can be a little part of his continued
people like Charles (aka Brew), said Halliwell, makes
my campaign to raise 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.
Halliwell, has dedicated a large portion of his life to raising
stroke awareness by telling others how his recovery was facilitated
by golf. Ian also has spent a great deal of his time tirelessly
fund-raising around the world for The Stroke Association. (www.stroke.org.uk)
by organizing celebrity tournaments and by publishing a book
entitled The Social Golfer.
The Social Golfer
started as a travel and golfing journal published to raise funds
for The Stroke Association and grew to include the Social Golfer
web-site and blog (thesocialgolfer.blogspot.com) where you can
follow Ian's tireless fund-raising golf trips around the world.
Prior to his
stroke in December 2006, at age 48, Ian was an avid golfer and
had enjoyed many golfing trips to the Costas, Tenerife, Tunisia,
and South Africa. Playing to a handicap of eight, he still harbored
dreams of retiring and trying for his card on the Seniors Tour,
but those dreams were dashed just days before Christmas of 2006
when he suffered a major stroke which caused total disability
to the left side of his body, leaving him unable to speak or
have aches and pains, says Halliwell in his book. My
left side is still slow in relation to the rest of my body. My
leg causes grief periodically. When asked by the doctor how I
feel, I usually reply, Uncomfortable, not ill, to
which he often replies, We cannot do anything about discomfort,
it comes with the territory.
Later in his
book Halliwell, who went from an 8 handicap before his stroke
to a 17 handicap after his stroke said, With golf, my swing
is now much more secure without the rotating hips of my left
side. He also states, Golf is such a big part of
my life and has been the catalyst for much of my recovery.
In regard to
the stress of taking golf too seriously, Ian now says, Since
my stroke, my golf game has not worsened at all. Indeed, because
of my medication, I presume, I no longer fret over four footers.
I simply hit and if it goes in, thats great, if not, so
what. My score is irrelevant. I now play the way the elders intended
golf to be played. You start at A and end up at B and play wherever
it rests in the meantime, with no drops, and no preferred lies.
Seven is not a dirty number, taking seven is better than not
playing at all.
I love playing
and being in the company of good players - you cannot fail to
admire their skill and technique. Mulligans, he goes on
to say, are a thing of the past. Every shot is important;
you never know, it could be your last so enjoy it.
book details his amazing and inspirational recovery and return
to the golf course after just over a year. The book also details
how he is heeding Pro Golfer, Bernard Hunts sage advice
to become the best damn social golfer on the planet.
that there are many people out there who feel beaten by a stroke,
says Halliwell in his book. Progress can be so slow and
frustrating that it often seems easier to just give up. Golf
helped me focus on my recovery and Im hoping that my journal
will help others find their own motivator."
2012 Open Tournament
If you would
like to have fun playing golf, while raising awareness of accessibility
issues concerning golfers with disabilities and/or mobility challenges,
the 7th Annual Florida
Open Tournament for Golfers with Disabilities and/or Mobility
Challenges will be held on October 13th, 2012 at Kissimme
Bay Country Club in St. Cloud Florida. For tournament details
or call the tournament director, Joe Stine at 863-227-2751 or
contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org