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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Playing Through

63,000,000.  Yes, 63 million.  Likely you are already asking what that number represents.  It is the estimated number of Americans living with some form of a disability.  The population of the United States is just over 315 million and approximately 1 in 5 are living with a disability.  They do not have a disability; they are living with a disability.  For many of these people it is simply their way of life.  They do not let it slow them down and in many cases most people around them likely are not aware of the disability.

The PGA Tour, Champions Tour, and LPGA Tour might not be the first places you would look for examples of people who refuse to let their disability or complex medical condition interfere with their life.  Yet each week you can look at the leaderboard and find someone who is just "playing through" a situation that would at the very least slow down most people.  Earlier this summer Stacy Lewis won the Women's British Open at St. Andrews, the home of golf.  Those who follow the LPGA Tour likely were not overly surprised because Stacy has held the ranking of #1 player in the world.  The amazing thing about her victory is Stacy won with a stainless steel rod and 5 screws implanted in her back.  It wasn't all that long ago that she was in a back brace and facing the real possibility of never walking again due to scoliosis.  Now she's winning Major Championships on the LPGA Tour.  To learn more about Stacy's incredible story visit her website HERE.

Earlier this year if you watched the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, you would have seen Erik Compton finishing T-4th.  That is one of Erik's three Top 25 finishes so far this year on the PGA Tour.  I realize three Top 25 finishes may not be impressive to some people since Tiger Woods has won 5 times this season.  But has Tiger won those 5 events following 2 heart transplants?  Erik Compton has had those 2 transplants, continues to play extremely well on Tour, and inspire millions each and every week.  More information on Erik can be found at

In 2009 Jeff Klauk earned well over $1 million on the PGA Tour, contended in THE PLAYERS Championship, and finished 60th on the FedEx Cup points list.  Many thought he was well on his way to a long, successful career on the PGA Tour.  Then the injuries started occurring and several surgeries followed.  Jeff also has epilepsy.  According to an article in the Kansas City Star on July 17, Jeff "has been seizure-free for well over a year" thanks to proper medication.  You can read the full article by clicking HERE.  This summer Jeff is playing the Tour and working his way back to the PGA Tour.  I certainly have no doubt we will see him again very soon on the PGA Tour!

May 14-19, 2010, in Birmingham, AL, marked the first time ever that an amputee played in a Champions Tour event.  Ken Green was in a horrific accident on June 8, 2009 that led to his right leg being amputated below the knee.  This accident also took the life of Ken's brother, partner-in-life Jeanne, and his German Shepherd.  For most an accident like this would end their golf days.  Not Ken.  He has kept playing, kept playing well, and continued to play at the highest level.  In that first tournament back in Birmingham he fired rounds of 74-76-75!  I'd take those scores any day of the week!  Learn more about Ken Green HERE.

When the kids I work with at Ranken Jordan and other pediatric hospitals ask what golfers they should watch, players like the ones mentioned in this post are the names I tell them.  These 4 players are inspirational to all golfers, and people in general, not just for their high-level of play.  Each one of them has overcome a situation that very likely would have derailed the golf dreams of most people.  Hard work, perseverance, and a dogged determination have gotten them where they are today.  No doctor or diagnosis has kept them from reaching the goals they have set for themselves.  They have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that, as the PGA Tour's charity slogan says, "Anything Is Possible."

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