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Every golfer begins each round with a handicap, but some golfers wake up every morning with a handicap.  Recently at Rapallo we were privileged to watch a tournament for people who may not be able to jump out of bed and walk down to breakfast, but are still motivated to get out and play golf.

The Comitato Italiano Paralimpico sponsored a two-day golf tournament at the Rapallo Golf and Tennis Club, and they had a full roster of entrants. (If you’re handicapped and want to participate in a sport, take a look at the Paralimpico website – you will be amazed, I think, at the scope of activities available.)

The Captain and I visited briefly on the first afternoon, and were truly humbled by the spirit – and skill! – of the golfers we watched.  We weren’t there long enough to get too many photos, but this Italian man was kind enough to allow me to take his picture.

His shot?  It was was straight and true, and went about half the distance to the little flag you can barely see at the end of the fairway.

Isn’t that an amazing vehicle? It’s the Parabasetec by Paragolfer.  If you want to see it in action, click here for a Youtube demo.  A similar vehicle is made by Powergolfer; we saw a number of those on the course.

Paraplegics were not the only golfers present.  Some people were missing a leg or two and played with prostheses; others had muscular dystrophy.  Several, like this man, were blind.  I know!  But you should have seen his shot – it was excellent.

Of course many of these sportspeople (yes, there were some women playing too) needed some assistance to play.  For instance, in the case of the man above the volunteer placed the ball on the tee, and held the head of the driver on the ball so the player could position himself appropriately.  A legion of wonderful volunteers from the Golf Club gave their time to make the event a great success, and happily the weather co-operated as well.  Golfers came from all over Europe as well as the United States.

There was a gala dinner at the end of the second day of the competition.  Rapallo’s Sindaco (the mayor), Avvocato  Campodonico, was present, as were a number of gents in very impressive uniforms.

So… if either one of us ever feels cast down because we didn’t hit the ball well, all we have to do is remember the golfers we met on a late October day in Rapallo.  We truly were humbled by the spirit, sense of fun, good sportsmanship and excellent play that we witnessed that day.