By Emil Bach Andersen
Clint Morgan was riding his BMX when the unthinkable happened. He tumbled over the handlebars and landed on his head and has been unable to walk ever since.
The 34-year-old recreational cyclist suffered a spinal cord injury and now has no feeling from the waist down.
Nine months after the catastrophic accident, in September last year, he has found a way to exercise again. Clint is one of the first West Australians with a disability to benefit from Empower Golf, a non-profit company, that has been operating in Perth for the past six months.
Empower Golf has introduced all-terrain wheelchairs to several Perth golf clubs. The Para Golfer allows disabled golfers to achieve a conventional golf swing over a full course. For Clint, the machine has been life-changing.
“When I tried this it was the first time I was able to stand up since the accident. Just to be able to have a conversation and look someone in the eyes rather than them looking down at me in the wheelchair is incredible. For a few seconds I forgot that I have a disability,” Clint says.
“It’s amazing to be out here swinging the golf club again and not being stuck inside on the couch, and just do what I love doing outside in the sun.”
Empower Golf spokesman Tom Hughson says players don’t have to be good at the sport to enjoy a full day out on the green.
“It’s about getting outside, getting some sunshine, meeting new people, and just for that hour not to be seen as somebody in a wheelchair but as a golfer,” Mr Hughson says.
Empower Golf paid for the machines through donations and grants. So far 35 Western Australians have used the Para Golfer, which is free of charge at selected golf courses including Wembley and Point Walter.
Golf WA communications manager Matt Somersord says the social aspect of golf is an added bonus of the game.
Golf enhances the simple things such as talking to the guy next to you about how it’s going, and emphasising. You can only get this, when you leave your house and get out on the course,” Mr Somersord says.