Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, Grand Blanc, MI — August 23, 2022
One of the great things about the game of golf is that it can be enjoyed at almost any stage of life. Regardless of an individual’s age, ability, condition, or skill level, golf provides a recreational outlet that allows for fun, fellowship, and a means to challenge one’s on-course achievements.
This was never more evident than watching golfers with a variety of disabilities participate in the McLaren Adaptive Golf Clinic held Tuesday, August 23rd, as a part of the lead-up to the Ally Challenge Presented by McLaren this week at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.
The Clinic, which is a new feature of the PGA Tour Champions Golf Tournament Week held annually at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, is a cooperative effort between McLaren Health Care, the United States Adaptive Golf Alliance, and the National Amputee Golf Association.
Held on the Driving Range at Warwick Hills, the clinic featured 5 renowned Adaptive Golf coaches working with 20 golfers from Michigan who, through a physical disability, require adaptive golf equipment or techniques to play the game of golf. The goal is to support these individuals in overcoming any disabilities to be able to enjoy all the benefits of playing the game of golf.
Adaptive Golf is a rising movement internationally in the sport as a way to expand the reach of golf and provide people with physical disabilities the tools and training to enjoy the game.
- Tracy Ramin, a Montrose, MI resident who is the Executive Director of the Michigan Amputee Golf Association, captain of the U.S. ParaGolf team, a staff member at Callaway Golf, and the 6th ranked player in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD). Ramin became a disabled athlete after his leg was amputated below the knee in 1998 due to a tragic car accident. Since then, he has dedicated himself to making the game of golf available to disabled individuals.
- Jonathan Snyder – Executive Director of the U.S. Adaptive Golf Alliance and 2021 and 2022 One-arm National Champion.
- John Bell – host of NAGA National Championships and Captain of the Cairns Cup (similar to the Ryder Cup for Adaptive Golfers). In 2011, John was involved in a traumatic motorcycle accident that resulted in a leg amputation.
- Kim Moore – Western Michigan University variety women’s head golf coach and 2022 U.S.G.A. Adaptive Open Women’s Champion. Kim was born with a below-the-knee birth defect in her right leg, which caused amputation. She was also born with a severe clubbed left foot and a slight case of spina-bifida. She is a 14-time US National Amputee Women’s Champion.
- Bryan Biagoil, President of the Michigan Amputee Golf Association.
The coach’s focused on supporting attendees in overcoming their disabilities to enjoy all the benefits of playing the game of golf. Instruction included an introduction to golf, SNAG (Starting New At Golf), as well as instruction on the fundamentals of; how to grip a club, putting, chipping, pitching, and full swing shots. The Clinic coaches provided all the necessary Adaptive golf equipment.
Watching the participants put the practical application and learned knowledge to the test produced some impressive shots that the coaches and observers cheered on with great enthusiasm
A Success Story
Jimmy Dee Dowsett participated in the McLaren Adaptive Golf Clinic, and The Lasco Press was fortunate enough to sit down and chat with Jimmy at the event.
A Michigan native, Jimmy lived a short distance from Warwick Hills. He began playing golf at the age of three, learning the game at Davison Country Club with the encouragement of his parents. During his teens, Jimmy caddied at Warwick Hills.
After completing his education, Jimmy enlisted in the Air Force and served actively from 1993 to 1997. Stationed in Okinawa, Japan, he learned to speak some aspect of 17 different languages.
Jimmy continued to play golf and became somewhat of a celebrity among the local military brass for the quality of his game. Playing with fighter pilots, Generals, and other officers, he advanced his skills and, in 1996, won the Air Force Challenge Tournament held in Okinawa. The same year he entered “enemy territory” and scored another victory in the Asian Marine Corps Tournament.
Getting the Big Break
By showcasing his golfing skills in the military, Jimmy caught the break of a lifetime. His commanding officer approached him and asked if Jimmy was ready to take his game to the next level. Securing the necessary permissions, Jimmy put his military career on hold with temporary leave to pursue his dream of playing professional golf.
He learned the Asian Tour was headquartered in Malaysia, and with his commanding officer, they traveled there so Jimmy could enter the Tour’s qualifying school, where he earned his professional card. Jimmy enjoyed the benefits of being a Touring golfer at the professional level while maintaining an association with Air Force staff.
Ending his enlistment after four years of representing himself and the Air Force as an inactive member of the military, Jimmy returned to the States and settled in Florida. After playing a few mini-Tour events in the US, Jimmy formed a sponsors partnership in 2001 to enable him to return to Asia and continue competing on that circuit.
Another life-changing event occurred in 2001; Jimmy was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis(MS). Fortunately, Jimmy’s type of MS advanced slowly, but it began to degrade his abilities on the golf course.
Returning to Michigan, Jimmy joined Warwick Hills and regularly played the course he once caddied at. He never realized the dream of having his picture hanging in the hallway of champions that connects the clubhouse with the pro shop.
However, just outside of Brody’s Golf Shop, there are plaques mounted on the wall that list winners of various club championships played over the years. Find the one that is titled Invitational Champions and trace the dates down to the winners in 2012. You will find the paring of S. Levigne and J.D. Dowsett II. Jimmy recalls the event as one of the proudest accomplishments in his golf career.
Admittedly Jimmy did not know much about MS when he was diagnosed with the disease. The more he learned, the more he wanted to help those who, like himself, battled this debilitating illness.
He formed a charity foundation, designed a golf glove, and sourced a vendor to manufacture it. Income from the sale of gloves helped finance the construction of disabled access ramps at the homes of MS patients.
While a member at Warwick Hills, Jimmy developed a concept called the Everybody Tee. Recognizing that disabled players do struggle to play regulation courses. Warwick Hills staff helped him set tee boxes at 250 yards for par five holes, 200 yards on the par fours, with par threes set at 125 yards.
Today, Jimmie and his son own and operate brandthehandnow.com, where they market custom-manufactured golf gloves (and other hand coverings) embossed with company logos or personalized designs. His love for golf is shared by clients who want to express their love for the game uniquely.
Small business, large corporation, personal passion, or the giving of a one-of-kind gift. Golf is such a universally loved game Brand the Hand produces gloves in small quantities or huge orders. Visit their website to learn more about their products. You can also contact them via email at jd@brandthehandnow or phone by calling: 810-348-3126.
The Ally Challenge Presented by McLaren
Congratulating Greg Lane, Executive Vice President/Chief Administrative Officer for McLaren Health Care, on the success of the Clinic. Greg shared with us that McLaren will be expanding their presence in the world of Adaptive Golf. This addition to the Ally Challenge Presented by McLaren during their 2022 tournament was warmly received and sure to grow in future editions of the “Best Event” on the PGA Tour Champions Schedule.
The McLaren Adaptive Golf Clinic is just one of many events being hosted during the Ally Challenge this week at Warwick Hills. Tickets are still available and likely to sell out. Check the schedule and reserve your admission passes now by visiting The Ally Challenge website.
For more pictures of the McLaren Adaptive Golf Clinic, visit the author’s Facebook Page at this link.