These guys may have lost a limb but they sure didn’t lose their competitive thirst to win in the inaugural ParaLong Drive golf championship held Oct. 29 in Mesquite.
Playing under the same rules and on the same grid as the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship golfers, 14 amputees hit their best drives down the grid to determine who the longest driver was.
With two players simultaneously hitting off the tee box each round, one had lost an arm and one had lost a leg. Some arm amputees used a prosthetic device to help them grip the club but others used just one arm.
Each golfer had two minutes and forty-five seconds to hit six golf balls down a 60 yard-wide grid that was 400 yards long. They competed in a three-round super qualifier with the best in each category then competing in a match play competition. Ultimately, Jared Brentz, a multiple leg amputee from Nashville, Tenn, was crowned the ParaLong Drive Champion with a drive that measured 358 yards.
There was suspense throughout out the competition as Brad Clayton went up against John Trenchik in the Overall Arm Amputee Championship Match Play. Clayton hit one of his drives 254 yards, barely edging out Trenchik’s 252 yard drive.
Dr. Lucian Newman III was the Champion in the Super Qualifier Amputee Division, Age 40-Plus with a 299 yard drive. Newman, who lost his left arm, is a surgeon in Etowah County, Alabama when he’s not on the golf course or driving range. He also took the top spot in the Arm-Assisted Division in the Super Qualifier.
Alan Gentry, a former geologist who lost his arm was the Super Qualifier Champion in the Arm-Unassisted Division with a drive that measured 265 yards.
Dean Jarvis, won the Leg-Above Knee amputee division with a 265 yard drive in the Super Qualifier round. Jarvis is also the driving force behind the ParaLong Drive Championship.
In the Leg-Below Knee Super Qualifier Division, Brendon Jacks from Prescott Valley, AZ took the top spot with a 334 yard drive.
Blind Golf National Champion David Meador gave a demonstration of how he is able to play golf, saying “Every golf course looks like Pebble Beach to me.” Meador described how he lost his eyesight at age 18, 47 years ago, in a car accident on Christmas Eve.
“Irrevocably, from one life to another. Bang. Lights out.”
“I tell you the truth. My loss of sight has turned out to be one of very best things that’s ever happened to me,” Meador said. “I’m not saying it’s been the easiest. It has become a gift that has connected me to fantastic people like you.”
He went on to give an inspirational message to not just the amputee golfers but everyone in the audience. He described how his father forced him to go out to a golf course a short time after his accident and begin playing golf again. His dad told him “David, let go of the past and turn to a brighter future. I will never forget my first shot. The ball literally exploded off the clubface 140 yards into our distant future. That distant future for all of us is right now.”
Clayton, who won the Overall Arm Amputee Championship, also gave a demonstration on hitting golf balls and about life itself. He has been a golf professional for 26 years and has a teaching center in Oxford, North Carolina. “My shirt got caught in an auger and I ripped my hand off, yada, yada, yada. Like David (Meador) said earlier, it truly was, outside the birth of my two children, the greatest thing that happened to me because of what it has allowed me to do. It’s a great opportunity if you look at it that way,” Clayton said.
He showed off some trick shots,
prefacing the demonstration by saying, “I don’t do this for a living; you are more than welcome to laugh at me when I miss a shot.” But he didn’t miss very many and gave a remarkable show of overcoming obstacles.
Clayton works with Wounded Warriors from Camp LeJuene Marine Base and Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina. He became noticeably emotional when he mentioned them. “When you see those guys coming back blown up and the inspiration they give you, it is special. Golf has been a proven avenue for them.”
“It’s great to have all the legs and all the arms,” Clayton said in his demonstration. But, his point was that if someone has issues that are not readily apparent, they need to work on those.
Meador returned to the tee box later in the competition in a demonstration with Mesquite resident Chad Cline who competes in the regular World Long Drive Championship. Cline, who is not an amputee, hit several golf balls almost to the 400 yard mark. Meador, as a way to show what it’s like to be a blind golfer, gave Cline a pair of ‘black-out’ glasses. Cline had a coach line him up for a shot like Meador experiences. He then hit the ball about the same distance and with a like accuracy as he did when he was watching the golf ball.
Young inventor Easton LaChappelle also gave a presentation on the prosthetic devices he has invented. The 17-year old discussed how he is working on more inventions that will aid amputees and help improve their lives.
The ParaLong Drive Championship was sponsored in large part by Stratasys, 3-D printing company. Local sponsors included the City of Mesquite, Nevada, Falcon Ridge Golf Course, Eureka Casino Resort, Wolf Creek Golf Club, Mesquite Elks Lodge 2811, Mesquite Regional Business, Friends of Rotary, Conestoga Golf Course, Mesquite Athletics & Leisure Services.
The next competition is the ParaLong Drive Championship 2014 presented by Stratasys, in Mesquite, May 8-9 (World Open for arm & leg amputees, blind and paralyzed long drivers).
Mesquite NV ParaLong Drive 2013 Results
Results of the Mesquite, NV ParaLong Drive Exhibition Oct. 29, 2013, at the Mesquite Sports & Event Complex, Mesquite, Nevada
Overall Champion: Jared Brentz 358 yards, (Multiple Leg Amputee, Nashville, Tenn.)
Overall Arm Amputee Championship Match Play-Championship: 1, Brad Clayton 254 yards (Oxford, N.C.) vs. 2, John Trenchik 252 (Toledo, Ohio). Semi-Finals: Trenchik 264 vs. Dr. Lucian Newman 240, (Etowah County, Ala.) and Clayton 260 vs. Alan Gentry 258, (Louisville, Ky.).
Overall Leg Amputee Championship Match Play-Championship: 1, Jared Brentz 358 (Nashville, Tenn.) vs. Brendon Jacks 336, (Prescott Valley, Ariz.). Semi-Finals: Brentz 337 vs. Toby Plasenchio 310 (Aledo, Texas) and Jacks 342 vs. Josh Williams 304 (Kitchener, Canada).
Champions of Super Qualifier Amputee Divisions: Age 40 +: Dr. Lucian Newman III, 299 yards, (Etowah County Alabama). Multiple Leg: Jared Brentz, 344 (Nashville, Tenn.), Arm-Assisted: Dr. Lucian Newman III, (Etowah County, Alabama). Arm-Unassisted: Alan Gentry, 265, (Louisville, Ky.). Leg-Above Knee: Dean Jarvis, 265, (Marysville, Tenn.). Leg-Below Knee: Brendon Jacks, 334, (Prescott Valley, Ariz.).
Individual Super Qualifer Longest Drive Results:
Arm Division: 1. Dr. Lucian Newman III, 299.; 2, Alan Gentry 265, (Louisville, Ky.); 3, Brad Clayton 252, (Oxford, N.C.); 4, John Trenchik 251, (Toledo, Ohio); 5, Bobby Baca 240, (Albuquerque, N.M.); 6, Daniel Aldrich 222, (Los Angeles, Calif.).
Leg Division: 1, Jared Brentz 344, (Nashville, Tenn.); 2, Brendon Jacks 334, (Prescott Valley, Ariz.); 3, Josh Williams 319, (Kitchener, Canada); 4, Toby Plasencio 315, (Aledo, Texas); 5, Tim Herrmann 298, (Belle Plaine, Minn.); 6, Tracy Ramin 296, (Montrose, Mich.; Dean Jarvis 265, (Maryville, Tenn.); 7, Rich Sainz: 200, (Tucson, Ariz.)
Blind Golfer Demonstration by David Meador, (Nashville, Tenn.). Technology Demonstration by Easton LaChappelle (Colo.)
Local Sponsors: City of Mesquite, Nevada, Falcon Ridge Golf Course, Eureka Casino Resort, Wolf Creek Golf Club, Mesquite Elks Lodge 2811, Mesquite Regional Business, Friends of Rotary, Conestoga Golf Course, Mesquite Athletics & Leisure Services.