It may not be as popular as the Masters or the PGA Tour, but the National Amputee Golf Open Championship is still one of the most exciting golf tournaments around.
Celebrating its 65th year, the championship concluded Friday, Aug. 16, in Lincoln, Neb. The tournament hosted 120 participants for a 54-hole event.
Canadian Josh Williams won the title, making it his third year to do so. He defeated competitors Kevin Valentine and Dr. Lucian Newman, who placed second and third, respectively.
Williams, a 28-year-old postal work and club fitter, is a left, below-the-knee amputee. He lost his leg when he was 6 years old as a result of a boating accident.
“I love this game,” Williams says. “I’ll be playing it until they put me in the ground — and when they do, it better be on a golf course.”
The National Amputee Golf Association, also known as NAGA, puts on the championship every year. NAGA, incorporated in 1954, began as a small group of amputee golfers and has since grown into a network of over 2,500 members.
Valentine, who is also a left leg amputee, won the tournament in 2007 and 2008. He says he has learned much from the other amputees in the competition.
“My first time, I walked to the practice green and it looked like a ‘Terminator’ convention, with metal arms and legs — all kinds. Some made noise. Some awkward stances,” Valentine says. “But everybody was in the mood to play the best golf they could. And who can tell a one-leg man joke better than guys with one leg?”
As for the women’s title, Kim Moore won for the 11th consecutive year and placed 8th overall. Moore was born without a right foot.
“I wasn’t going to let that stop me from playing sports, and to play at the level I could excel at, I made golf my sport when I was pretty young,” Moore says. “You meet a lot of people here who found the same answer — that’s why this is such a great tournament.”
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