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Golfers share skills, inspiring stories at Adaptive Golf Challenge

News 12 at 6 o'clock, April 5, 2010

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- Being confined to a wheelchair or missing an arm might be enough for some people to hang up their clubs. But for these golfers, they're just getting started.

"This is one of my highlights every April," says Willie Jones, a golfer in the tournament.

Willie has played golf for most of his life, and was an avid golfer before losing his eyesight.

"It's a gorgeous day!" he exclaims. "See, when the wind's behind me, that's the time you really get a good shot."

"We can all play golf, not just people without disabilities," adds 13-year-old Bryce Bonds, who is confined to a wheelchair. "Everybody can play golf if they really want to."

The golfers played in foursomes, with one disabled player matched with three non-disabled players.

Willie received some guidance from his team as he prepared to tee off.

"Years ago, I used to play out here on this course before I became blind," he says. "So I see the holes in my mind."

He adds that a lot of golf is mental, and he's able to navigate the course in part just by feeling the ups and downs of the hills.

Brad Stevens lost his right arm in an accident almost a decade ago. He now teaches golf in North Carolina. He demonstrated his abilities, using a metal attachment to help him grip the golf club.

"I just don't hit it very far, but I can still hit it," Stevens says. "So it's a matter of just getting back on the horse."

And for Janet Swain, golfing is a new hobby and a new found freedom.

"I have MS and I've never even golfed before," she says.

Janet uses a specialized cart to travel and play the course.

"It allows me to swivel and I don't have to worry about my balance," she says.

"I love it, and it kind of makes me feel like I can do something that anybody can do. It kind of makes me feel like a normal person again."

The event was kicked off by Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who presented legendary golfer Billy Casper with a proclamation naming April 5, 2010 "Billy Casper Day."

News 12's Meredith Anderson was emcee for the event, and shared her personal connection with the tournament.

"To each one of you that plays in this tournament, I am absolutely inspired by you every single time I play golf."

The tournament was played at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course.

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