MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ – More than 30 amputee golfers competed with each other and bonded over their shared experiences of living with an artificial limb at the 20th Annual Eastern Amputee Golf Association/Howard Taylor Memorial Golf Tournament. The Tournament was sponsored by Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison.
To Brian C. Phillips of Plainfield, who participated in the Tournament, stepping out on the golf course a year after his amputation meant he achieved another goal, another milestone.
“It feels really great to be here,” Phillips said. “My team at JFK Johnson promoted the idea of working toward goals and that’s what I’ve been doing in my rehabilitation. I’ve gained confidence to do all the things I want to do.”
The event was held at Rossmoor Golf Club, those with amputations played alongside those without limb loss. According to organizers, some participants with amputations were experienced golfers while others took up the game after their amputation surgery.
“Everyone is equal. On the golf course, disability just melts away,” said Heikki Uustal, M.D., medical director of the Prosthetic/Orthotic Team at JFK Johnson. “Everybody has a chance to have a great shot ... or to miss a shot. On the golf course, handicap means something different entirely.”
Louis Namm, an Eastern Amputee Golf Association Life Member and double amputee, teaches golf to others who have had amputations.
“We’ve all experienced the different phases. The loss of a limb. The anger. The rehabilitation gauntlet. And we go through it and now we’re out here playing golf. You learn to move on with your life,” Namm said.
For Alan Lewis of Basking Ridge, losing a limb has not forced him to slow down his life. He plays golf several times each week, and especially enjoys the amputee golf tournament. He looked out at the golfers swinging clubs and walking with artificial limbs and said, “I can see that I am not alone in this adventure.”
The tournament raises money for college scholarships in honor of the founder of the tournament, Howard Taylor. Proceeds from the event support college scholarships in his name, according to event organizers.