Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Tom Herbert Has A Golfing Handicap Of A Different Kind

24 Jun 2011Lots of people with disabilities play sports. Whether it’s to keep up their fitness levels, for socialising or just as a hobby, it’s a good way to fit in with able-bodied people, especially if you’re good at something.

I know I’ve shown a few grown men a thing or two when it comes to playing pool! Not sure if it’s because I’m gifted or maybe because I’m at the perfect eye level to see the angle of the balls on the table. Whatever it is, it gives me a buzz when I beat guys who think to themselves ‘as if this girl’s going to be any good’.

Actually, one of my closest male friends and I met because we were paired up together in a pool comp, and I beat him. I still tease him about it to this day. And he always tells people how he went home telling his partner ‘I was beaten at pool....... by a girl...... in a wheelchair!’ – I love it!

So anyway, no matter what the disability, we can all be good at something, it’s just a matter of adjusting things to suit for your specific needs. Like Tom Herbert, for instance, he loves golf, and has a handicap of 14 on the course. When he was just 2 years of age, he managed to get his way through an opened gate at the back of his property, which led to train tracks. He fell onto the track as a train was coming and subsequently lost both of his hands.

As heartbreaking as this would’ve been for his family, Tom hasn’t known anything else, so has been able to adapt himself, so that he can participate in activities just as anyone else who had all their limbs would. Tom says: ‘do what you have to do to get through life’.

Tom is a retired steel mill worker, he’s been married for over 40 years and him and his wife have three grown up children together. He plays 3 rounds of golf a week at Tot Hill Farms Golf Course, in North Carolina, which is deemed to be one of the toughest courses to play on in the US. He plays against his able bodied mates, and gives them a run for their money, but he still doesn’t see himself as an inspiration. He just looks at it as doing what comes naturally to him, his version of ‘normal’.

Tom has played baseball too, where he has won awards, and has also been a member of the National Amputee Golf Association, where he’s played in tournaments against other amputees.

He truly would be an inspiration to be around, and as one of his golfing buddies says;”you go out with a bad back, and you say ‘oh my back hurts today’ it doesn’t hurt long when you play with Tommy”.

To watch the story about Tom, which was featured on an American news site, click here: http://www.digtriad.com/news/local/story.aspx?catid=13&storyid=150767 – it’s amazing to see how he manages to hold the club and hit the ball in such a way that seems totally effortless.

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