SOMERS, N.Y. – Douglas Shirakura is a member of the Somers High School golf team. He has played golf competitively since seventh grade, but learned the sport when he was 6 years old. He earned the Coaches Award in 2017, his freshman year, and earned All-League for his sophomore and junior seasons. Outside of high school, Shirakura has competed in Junior and Amputee golf tournaments across the East Coast. His goal is to one day play for a Paralympic golf team.
How are you getting through this period of social isolation? What are you doing to keep busy?
I use video games, voice chat, and Facetime to get through the majority of the day talking and playing with friends as well as getting the school work provided done as well. Although I can’t really see my friends we still have fun times talking and seeing each other in the virtual world. Besides that I have to keep up what I worked so hard this off-season for golf by hitting balls into a net in my living room, stretching and staying flexible, and retaining the strength I gained during the winter for this season.
How confident are you that you will play another golf match for Somers?
Although I’m unsure of the school’s decision-making for keeping the spring sports season, I’m staying positive that I will play another match as a Somers High School golfer this year. There are many arguments as to why I think the school should let us play as they are the same arguments and more of the points made by Westchester County golf courses and why they should remain open. Golf isn’t a contact sport unless you count that between the club and the ball, communication between players is rare when we are competing and most competitors will be yards apart for 80 percent of the round. On top of that, the teams are small at most, only 6- 8 to a team, and we only need five, so I’m pretty confident that an argument could be made that the golf season should continue.
How old were you when you started playing golf and what got you started?
As I mentioned before, golf has been apart of my life since I was around 6 years old. Both my parents were huge golfers and they got me started at a young age. I started to play competitively in local tournaments around seventh grade and soon gradually got up to the larger stages such as the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour and the American Junior Golf Association, which are nationwide junior golf tours. At around eighth grade, I discovered the Eastern Amputee Golf Association and started playing golf for them. The EAGA is an amazing association that organizes golf tournaments for amputees, not just along the East Coast but even internationals come out to compete. I think that the EAGA inspired me to play more and work hard to get better at this game and I have the competitors in the EAGA tournaments to thank for the inspiration and the motivation.
What is your favorite thing about being on the Somers golf team?
My favorite thing about the Somers golf team is just the overall fun we have together. The golf team is small and has its disadvantages but when you have a small quantity of players together you have to get along together and have a good laugh sometimes. I know everyone and everyone knows me and all of us get along very well for the most part.
Who has been your biggest role model over the years and what have you learned from them?
Biggest role model has to go to Ken Green. Ken Green used to be a PGA Tour player and I was fortunate enough to meet him a couple years ago and he has helped me so much, I wouldn’t be the golfer I am today if I had never met him. I’ve learned so much about the game not just physical but mental aspects he’s used on the biggest stage in golf on the PGA Tour and found success with it.
How do you get prepared for a match?
I prepare for matches by eating food, making sure I’m well-hydrated and not hungry before a match or tournament. As well as usually the day before understanding my potential weaknesses going into the tournament and what I have to be cautious of during play. Also listening to music and just relaxing, getting myself into the zone the right mindset for the tournament.
Will you be attending college? If so, where and what will you study?
I will be attending college I am just at the moment unsure of where. I still have to decide. I know I will be studying to become an engineer but I’m unsure what type of engineering. I’m between biomedical, aerospace, and mechanical engineering as my choices and I keep an open mind to see what opportunity brings me.
Will you continue to play sports beyond high school?
Yes, I hope to play for an NCAA golf team but if that doesn’t work out I intend to play club sports and try new activities while I’m in college, such as ultimate Frisbee and rock climbing.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
My superpower would be the ability to learn and understand anything instantly. I think knowing things is really cool and It’s a power that I would like to have to expand my learning and talents.
What is something about yourself people would be surprised to learn?
I think most people are pretty surprised once they realize I wear a prosthetic on my right leg but, other than that, maybe that I like to cook? I don’t do it very often, but I enjoy it a lot.
What is your favorite place to visit on vacation and why?
My favorite place to visit on vacation is Japan. It’s my favorite place because I enjoy seeing and catching up with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I also enjoy visiting because of the food. The food is definitely one of the top reasons why I go back.
What is your favorite place to eat locally?
My favorite place to eat locally is definitely between Frank’s Pizzeria and Froggy’s Deli, depending on how I’m feeling. Both places are delicious and I enjoying eating food with friends.
What’s the go-to app on your phone and why?
Reddit or Instagram. Like any teenager, I enjoy social media and catching up with friends and seeing news from around the globe. Catching myself up with the latest breaking news and being ahead of my parents who get their news from the TV.
Do you have a favorite sports movie and/or book?
“Happy Gilmore” is a classic golf movie. I definitely enjoy watching that movie.
For a young athlete growing up in the Somers school district, what would you tell them about the experience of being part of the golf team and why should they go out for it?
I think golf is an underrated sport in the Somers High School community. I think a lot of people make fun of it for not being a sport and I think that they are wrong. Modern golfers are one of the most athletic athletes, and although it doesn’t rely as heavily on athleticism as other sports, it’s just as much of a sport like baseball, soccer, and football. You learn things from golf that you will not experience in other sports. There is a reason why this sport is difficult. It’s meant to challenge you in ways you’ve never been challenged before, and it’s the reason why this game is so addicting to me. Being on the high school golf team has taught me a lot and I think people who are interested in even trying golf should definitely try it. Those who are intrigued by challenges such as myself will be drawn and hooked on golf, no matter how frustrating.
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