First-Ever US Adaptive Championship Puts Spotlight On Golfers With Disabilities
MONTROSE, Mich. — Tracy Ramin is more than just one of the contestants trying to win this week’s U.S. Adaptive Open.
He’s also like a proud father after seeing years of hard work to get the tournament off the ground finally pay off.
The United States Golf Association is sponsoring the first U.S. Adaptive Open which began Monday at Pinehurst No. 6 in North Carolina. Ramin is one of four Michigan players in the field for the 54-hole event.
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Ramin, a teaching pro at Briar Ridge Golf Course in Montrose near Flint, is the executive director of the National Amputee Association and is on the USGA’s competition committee. He’s the captain of the U.S. ParaGolf team.
Seeing the U.S. Adaptive Championship finally being played is the result of years of work Ramin put in.
“I’ve been involved since the inception of it,” said Ramin, 50. “We’ve really been pushing the USGA for 10 years to be more involved. The last three years, they’ve done distance measuring for the (National Amputee and Adaptive Championship), trying to help categories for each impairment.
“I helped name the tournament. They asked me what I thought about Disabled Open. I said no. Disabled is a negative word. We don’t want to say disabled. We want to say adaptive.”
The tournament is for players with some kind of impairment. The 96 players in the field include some with amputated limbs, Down syndrome, diabetes, a club foot and cerebral palsy.
In Ramin’s case, he had his left leg amputated about 2½ inches below the knee in 1998 after suffering a horrific injury on I-75 just north of Flint after a 40-foot extension ladder fell off his truck.
“I got out and looked and (traffic) was clear,” he said. “A 40-foot extension ladder rattled off right in the slow lane. A semi went into the fast lane to give me room and a pickup passed him on the right and hit me going 80 mph.
“My dad found my leg bones on the side of the road the next day. It ripped the bones right out. The ankle bone and foot bones were gone completely. That’s what he found the next day. A hole in my side was so big you could fit a baseball in my left hip.
“Broke my shoulder, broke my jaw in two spots, broke my right leg. I had a 2% chance to live.”
Yet he not only survived but it wasn’t long before Ramin was back on the golf course.
“Three months after my accident with some rickety prosthetic,” he said. “It was like a big old brace. It wasn’t even a prosthetic. It was more like a big crutch. Before I got hurt I was a pretty good golfer. After I got hurt, I had 10 surgeries in 10 years.
“I’d have surgery in the winter and play in the summer and I got pretty good.”
Good enough to have won the 2019 Georgia State Golf Association’s Adaptive Golf Championship, the 2018 Missouri Amputee Championship and the 2018 Midwest Amputee and Disabled Championship.
He plays to a 1.7 handicap these days after previously having a plus-1.7 handicap.
Ramin prepared for the U.S. Adaptive Open by playing practice rounds in recent weeks at The Fortress in Frankenmuth, Metamora Golf Club near Lapeer and Forest Akers in East Lansing.
“My game is pretty tight right now,” he said. “I was ranked No. 7 in the world within the last six months. I work a lot so it’s hard to put the time in. The last two weeks, I’ve played a lot of golf. I shot 76 at The Fortress the other day
“When I’m playing well, I’m low 70s. When I’m not playing as much, I’m high 70s. I think I can keep it in the 70s all three days (at Pinehurst). If I make a lot of putts and play to my level and have my week, I can win for sure.
“There are some great players coming in but pretty much everybody coming has been at the three-day events I’ve been at and I’ve beaten them all in at least one round.”
The tournament features players from 29 states and 11 countries and competitors range in age from 15 to 80.
The field will also include former Buick Open champion Ken Green, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour and former member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Green lost his leg in an RV accident in 2009.
Ramin’s day job is the owner of 810 Vending, a company that has massage chairs in four states. He also gives clinics to adaptive golfers around the country, including several at PGA Tour events.
While he’d obviously like to win at Pinehurst, just seeing the tournament finally get off the ground is a victory in itself. Ramin hopes it inspires players with impairments to play golf.
“I would love to be on top,” he said. “But it’s more about awareness. Somebody is watching at home and saying, ‘If that guy can do it, I can do it, too.'”
Golf Channel will provide daily coverage from noon-2 p.m. and 4-5 p.m. ET. The trophy ceremony and playoff (if necessary) will also be televised July 20 on Golf Channel.
USGA.org will feature live scoring, video highlights and daily highlight packages on its YouTube channel.
Some of the notable players are highlighted on USGA.org.
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