Despite the threat of potential thunderstorms, hundreds of golfers took their chances Saturday at the Texas State Amputee Golf Championship.
More than 100 estimated competitors and volunteers converged on the Hideout Golf Course and Resort, celebrating the third year of the tournament.
“If you add up all of our sponsors, guests and amputees, there are about 60 golfers here today,” said Roy McCoy, tournament organizer. “Our Oklahoma tournament has a lot fewer than that, but we have a lot less sponsors up there. We will have around 30 or 40 golfers. Brownwood, and Early in particular, have been really great about sponsoring us. We have a lot of good sponsors in Brownwood, a lot of businesses. I could name them all and they really accepted us and welcome us every year … I’m really impressed the way the people have come out to support us.”
Saturday’s tournament brought golfers from throughout the southern United States to Brown County with some traveling dozens of hours to attend the event. McCoy said the event began because of the efforts of Gerald Ledsome, who served on the SWAGA board and lobbied for them to bring the Texas State Amputee Championship to Brown County. Ledsome won the first amputee state championship in 2015, but a car accident limited his participation in 2016 and 2017. Ledsome said he wanted to bring the tournament to Brown County because of its staunch support for wounded military veterans.
“From year to year the sponsors don’t stick with you, but these people do,” Ledsome said. “The people in Brownwood and the sponsors, but the city of Early especially. They came in big time and next year they have a few more ideas and we have a few more ideas and maybe we can get a few more golfers. We’re looking to grow this thing. We have every year. It’s getting bigger and bigger and we would like to see 100 golfers.”
For Jimmy Squire, a lifelong golfer and amputee, he believes tournaments like Saturday’s allow amputees the opportunity to share fellowship and enjoy a sport where their greatest opponent is himself or herself. Although winning the title is the primary concern at other tournaments, Squire said having the chance to hit the links with those who understand the challenges of dealing with one or multiple amputations is why he participates in SWAGA tournaments.
“You get to learn the various levels of amputation, whether it was in the military, accidents or injuries,” Squire said. “Just to get out here and laugh with our elders is the main thing … We’re just having a good time smiling, laughing, throwing a few arms and legs around, if necessary, when we made a bad shot. It’s good.”
When not hitting the links himself, Squire maintains golf courses throughout the year and said the quality of the recently renovated Hideout Resort and Golf Course, as well as the locals, are what keep him coming back year after year.
“It’s a great town and a great course that’s beautiful and big. It’s not like any other golf course,” Squire said. “I work for Shawnee Golf Course in Oklahoma. This is a really exciting course that takes a long time to play. It’s excellent.”