I never pictured myself as a golfer. I’d always asked my father-in-law, “How do you go out there and just chase a little ball around?” Growing up I thought of golf as a sport for retired people.
Then one Father’s Day years ago, I was asked to go golfing with some friends. I figured why not. My first time out with rented clubs, not knowing a thing about the game, I was told to just hit the ball as straight and hard as I could and aim for the fairway. They said the closer the ball got to the hole to change the club I was using. It sounded like a piece of cake.
Boy was I wrong. I had no idea how hard it truly is to play the sport and what you have to learn, things like judging distance to the hole, the right club to use, how hard to hit, and how to stay out of the woods, a place I found myself a lot. I wasn’t all bad, though. I managed to have a good time, and I was quickly hooked.
From that point on, I started going to the driving range, playing for fun with friends, entering some tournaments, and also just putting around my yard trying to gauge my swing. A big step was buying a set of clubs. No more renting. They’re something you use every time you go out, so owning clubs that fit really improves your game. For me, they helped me stop slicing the ball and kept me out of the woods.
Everyone has their own reasons for playing golf. Some people play for fun, some people play for the challenge, some people play because they’re competitive. I played because it was relaxing—I could take all my anger out on that little ball (when I had some, which I seldom did). Everything was going great for me then, in and outside of the game: golf, family, and doing things together as a family as my daughter grew.
Setbacks and Recovery
In 2010 I suffered a spinal stroke, and everything came to a halt. Lying in the hospital, I thought to myself, will things ever be normal again? Would I be able to even go on those family walks that we took so often? And golf was off the table. Something I’d tried so hard to become good at was taken from me in a blink of an eye.
It wasn’t until I received the C-Brace that I found myself back out on the course. I was told the day of delivery—April 3, 2013—that there was a golf setting that could be programed into the C-Brace. I couldn’t believe how much thought Ottobock had put into the thing. I didn’t go directly to the course right away, though part of me wanted to. I still had weeks of physical therapy and training to do, but once I was able to stand on my own two feet steadily, I had my orthotist program the golf setting in.
Back on the Green
The golf setting in the C-Brace is really a predetermined stance, a certain bend of the knee that is programmed in. With the touch of a button, I can transfer from everyday use mode to golf mode, in a stance with a slight knee bend no more than 20 degrees. Once in golf mode I stay in it until the game is done. It’s there every time I get ready to putt, tee off, or drive.
With each swing, my right leg wants to twist and straighten for a good follow-through. When it’s in golf mode, the C-Brace still allows the extra toe pressure for this movement without going into free swing, which under normal settings it would do.
The golf setting has not only let me play again, but it’s really helped my swing and my game beyond what I expected. And out on the course, everything feels almost like it used to.
The C-Brace has given me more then just golf back: it’s given me my life back in so many ways. Don’t let the fact that you may use adaptive equipment get in your way of your daily activities or even your hobbies. It’s your life; only you can control the outcome.
It hasn’t been easy, but I’m always ready to share my personal experiences in the hope they can help others, too.