Imagine one day you are playing the game you love
as an able-bodied person, and the next day you are
unable to do so for the rest of your life. For USGTF
member Anthony Netto, in 1994 that scenario became
reality. However, instead of accepting that he would never
play again, Netto decided to do something about it.
Netto was on his way back from the golf course
that fateful day when he was struck head-on by a drunk
driver, rendering him a paraplegic, paralyzed from
the waist down. Eventually, he made his way back to
the golf course, but playing from a sitting position he
would sometimes strike his knees with the club. He
figured there must be a better way for someone in his
position to be able to play the game.
He found Otto Bock, a leading manufacturer of
wheelchairs and other products for the physically
disabled, and came to them with an idea: Let’s make a
device that allows paralyzed golfers to assume a normal
stance when playing. Thus, the ParaGolfer was born.
The ParaGolfer is completely different than other wheelchair devices that allow a paralyzed golfer to
play, in that it achieves Netto’s goal of permitting a
standing posture. Paralyzed golfers can experience
the game virtually as they once did.
The ParaGolfer has been in use in South
Africa and in Europe for the past 10 years,
but acceptance in the United States has been
slow. Unfortunately, many golf course owners
are still under the mistaken impression that
allowing such devices will harm the turfgrass. In fact,
though, the ParaGolfer puts less pressure per square
inch on the ground than does a footprint. Not only
that, but prohibiting such devices runs contrary to the
Americans with Disabilities Act.
Getting paralyzed golfers back into the game is
critically important, not only for their mental health, but
also their physical health. Netto reports that use of the
ParaGolfer halts and reverses a whole array of ailments
that may plague the paralyzed, including osteoarthritis.
Netto’s goal is to see that use of the ParaGolfer becomes
widespread around the golf world, including the United
States, and wants to get the word out to his fellow golf
teachers that they can play a role in promoting it.
The cost of the ParaGolfer is $16,500, and various
insurance plans may or may not pay for it, so individuals
need to check with their insurance providers.
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