Longtime golfer and retired Marine Sgt. Mike Nicholson is both athletic and competitive.
- Amputated Sgt. plays in golf tournament
- Sgt plays on paraplegic golfers unit
- Unit available this fall
"It's just always been a part of my life, even when I went to the Marine Corp, I had my clubs out at the base I was stationed at," he said.
Mike's life changed in 2011 when he stepped on an IED while serving in Afghanistan. He lost both of his legs and the lower part of his left arm.
"After I got hit I thought pretty much everything that was a part of my life before was pretty much done," Mike explained.
But 33 surgeries and years of intense physical therapy later, Mike is back on the golf course and playing the game that he loves.
Re-learning how to swing and modifying his strategy wasn't easy, but he caught on quick.
This fall, he will be representing the country at the world's largest Paralympic event, the 2017 Invictus games in Toronto.
"In my family we don't use the word can't, we just find a different way, you're going to have adversity all throughout your life, but the tools are there and the resources are available so you can go out and play," Mike said.
One of the tools is state-of-the-art wheelchairs, called para golfer units. It lets Mike stand and stay secure while swinging the club, without having to worry about staying balanced.
They're made specifically for paraplegics.
"You can actually just worry about swinging the club, which is hard enough as it is," said Mike.
Mike competed on Saturday the First Annual Para Golfer Tournament held at Summerfield Crossings Golf Club in Riverview.
The club's general manager, Jason Blanchard, organized the tournament so they could pay for the club to have one of the para golfer units. That way, they could bring golf back into people’s lives who thought they could no longer play.
"This was just the perfect avenue to do it, it gave those the ability to play, as well as brought a unit to the golf course to help everyone they can," Jason explained.
The unit will cost nearly $26,000. But, Blanchard said the tournament brought in the bulk of the money.
The para golfer unit should be available at the golf club in the coming weeks.