“Cerebral palsy” and “hitting a golf ball” are not two phrases normally associated with one another.
Even mild cases of the condition can lead to issues in coordination where the intended position of one’s body when the signal leaves the brain and where the limbs end up when they receive the message are far from congruent with one another.
Severe cases start getting into crutches and wheelchairs territory.
But then again, one man’s disabling condition is another man’s opportunity, and the resemblance between a crutch and a putter made possible a game of “adaptive golf” for 17-year-old Ethan Olson of Geneva, Illinois.
What happens next even got the attention of ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
He makes two attempts at the ball, with differing quality of results.
His first putt sails wide of the hole, ending up as far away on the opposite side as it was when it left the club for the shot itself.
Olson then uses his crutches to drag himself the roughly five feet to where the ball was waiting for him, running into the problem that crutches aren’t exactly known for granting their user turn-on-a-dime agility.
So rather than try and turn around to hit the ball forward, Olson reaches forward, taps the ball backward through his legs, and hits nothing but the bottom of the cup.
Ethan is a determined kid, as his parents Mike and Kathy, of Traverse City, Michigan, are quick to point out.
Kathy Olson said to Caters Media that the modified putter will help her son to add yet another activity to the list of things he’s not letting his disability get in the way of him doing.
“We thought it would be a good idea to attach a putter to one of his crutches, so we tried it and it worked,” Olson said.
“Attaching the putter with the bungee cord was a good fit. He’s going to start using it more often,” she added. “Using the walker was a little too much work for him. This method will definitely be less cumbersome.”
As for the results?
“We were so excited when we saw the ball go in,” Olson said. “Everyone was cheering and clapping for him.”
Olson said her son has always been determined to be active.
“He has always had strong determination and an ‘I-can’ attitude, which has led him to participate in the same activities as everybody else,” she said. “With help from a few different organizations, Ethan has sailed, scuba dived, downhill skied, kayaked, cycled, tubed and played sled hockey, soccer and T-ball.”
Not only is that not bad for a kid with cerebral palsy, that kind of well-rounded physical activity is pretty impressive in its own right.
And besides, let’s see Tiger Woods stand with his back to the hole and try to knock in a putt between his legs like that. Who wants to take bets on how many tries it’d take him?
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