McLaren Hosts Adaptive Golf Clinic at The Ally Challenge

Tracy Ramin (right) helps a player with her backswing. Photo by Ben Gagnon

LARGE WHITE TWP. — Golfers with disabilities had the opportunity to receive one-on-one instruction and demonstrate their skills at a golf clinic held during Ally Challenge week.

McLaren Health Care, title sponsor of The Ally Challenge, hosted the first McLaren Adaptive Golf Clinic on August 23 at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in partnership with the United States Adaptive Golf Alliance and the National Amputee Golf Association. The event featured five renowned adaptive golf coaches working with 20 Michigan golfers who must play with adaptive golf equipment or techniques due to a disability or physical impairment.

Coaches worked with players on putting, chipping, pitching, club gripping and full swings. Beginning disabled golfers also learned to use adapted clubs and tried out specialized equipment.

Tracy Ramin, executive director of the Michigan Amputee Golf Association and disability coach at the clinic, said adaptive golf helps people overcome their physical limitations and reap the full benefits of the game.

Disabled golf instructor John Bell (front left) gives advice to a participant on the green.  Photo by Ben Gagnon

Disabled golf instructor John Bell (front left) gives advice to a participant on the green. Photo by Ben Gagnon

“Our hope here is to inspire someone to come play golf,” he said. “They might be sitting on the couch thinking they can’t do it, but if they see some of these players doing it who have a similar illness or injury, they’ll know they can be part of that. what we are doing and making physical activity a part of their lives.

Montrose resident Ramin became a disabled athlete after his left leg was amputated below the knee in 1998 following a traumatic car accident. Since then, he has dedicated himself to making golf accessible to people with disabilities. He is also the captain of the USA ParaGolf team, a member of the staff of Callaway Golf and the sixth player in the world ranking of handicapped golfers.

Other coaches at the clinic included Jonathan Snyder, executive director of the US Adaptive Golf Alliance (USAGA) and 2021 and 2022 North American One Arm National Champion; John Bell, host of the NAGA National Championships and captain of the US Cairns Cup team; Bryan Baigoil, president of the Michigan Amputee Golf Association; and Kim Moore, head coach of women’s golf at Western Michigan University and 2022 United States Golf Association (USGA) Adaptive Open Women’s Champion.

Moore, a 14-time U.S. National Female Amputee Champion, was also able to participate in The Ally Challenge’s Celebrity Shootout with pro golf legend Jack Nicklaus and others on Saturday night.

In addition to receiving instruction, several clinic participants demonstrated how they adapted their golf games to overcome physical barriers. Randy Green, a Flushing resident and right-leg amputee, said he has gained confidence in his swing since learning proper golf techniques.

“When you bring the club back, you transfer weight to your right foot and use it to push off,” said Green, who plays in a Wednesday night league at Flushing Valley Golf Course. “As a right amputee, I now have to use my upper body to cross the ball to get any kind of distance because I just don’t have the feel of the swing I used to.”

David Brower, a 73-year-old Great White native and stroke survivor, said adaptive golf helped him rehabilitate and get active again.

“I used to golf 36 holes a day, so at this point I’m just relearning the basics that I’ve always known,” he said. “The great thing about adaptive golf is that it teaches you to go back and never give up.”

The clinic also featured players who have played in several adaptive golf tournaments around the world, including Kevin Holland, a world-class disabled golfer who played for the US ParaGolf team at the Cairns Cup in London this spring. Holland, who has cerebral palsy and is a golf coach for disabled youth, said he was proud to spread awareness of adaptive golf and help kids reach their potential.

“It’s a huge honor when a kid says they look up to you,” he said. “What we’re doing right now is paving the way for the future of the game.”

To learn more about adaptive golf or to find a clinic near you, visit usaga.org.

Michael C. Ford