Greetings fellow Members and Guests of Chilliwack Golf Club,
My name is Dustin Boydell and I am one of the newest members at Chilliwack Golf Club. I would like to start by thanking the club for their incredible hospitality and generosity in welcoming an adaptive golfer to be a full play member. You may be asking a couple of questions like, what is an adaptive golfer or why should I care? An adaptive golfer is someone who plays with an acquired disability, whether through birth, illness or accident. You should care because not many people with disabilities feel welcome on the golf course, either for social or more than likely financial reasons. When you suffer from a life altering disability your opportunities to live on the same social ladder as the able-bodied is incredibly reduced. Either your limitations prevent you from working full-time, or they are so severe you struggle to find, or return to, work at all. Recreational activities become harder and harder to find and it can lead to depression or worse. My goal is to break down some of these barriers and help bring golf back to people of all abilities.
Three years ago I had to have emergency back surgery to remove an infection in my spine that compressed my spinal cord and left me completely paralyzed from the waist down. When I woke up from surgery I was told I may never walk again. I was off work for almost two years and because of financial pressures I attempted to return to work. This led to a depressed state and me having to leave work again and collect disability, which for reference is about one-third of regular wages. During this time I was also going through intense physiotherapy and rehabilitation in attempts to walk again. Fast forward to May 2021 and with my therapists we started to integrate golf as part of my therapy. Golf was a huge part of my teenage years and was almost something I pursued after graduation, so when my injury happened I was afraid I would never golf again.
I had heard of machines called paragolfers that stand a para/quadraplegic upright to swing a club, but with a price tag of 35k+ no way was that ever going to be an option. On May 25, at my therapy clinic we video taped my first full swing since back surgery and my attitude was about to change! I posted the video to twitter and got a like and REPLY from the real Phil Mickelson which made the tweet go viral. Once that happened the organization Paragolf Canada reached out and explained world disabled golf rankings and how Canada finally has a national organization to help disabled golfers like myself succeed. I immediately became a member and set out on a new path to make a comeback to the game of golf with a competitive and inspired outlook but with the financial barriers my dreams we quickly made reality. I started with a couple of range sessions but was going to have a hard time getting out on the course due to the cost. Luckily Paragolf Canada, Chilliwack Golf Club and a self organized go fund me have allowed me to purchase a full play membership to practice. Once CGC heard about my story we developed a partnership to make it the go to course for adaptive golf in the Fraser Valley. We now have plans to organize a clinic for disabled golfers to show that despite certain limitations golf can still be there as a great social outing, low impact exercise and mental escape.
I again want to thank the club for this amazing opportunity to not only represent Paragolf Canada but CGC as well. The future for me specifically is to keep raising money through my go fund me for updated properly fit golf equipment, lessons to hone the inconsistencies and future tournament fees. I have aspirations to be one of the best adaptive golfers in the country and am committed to the dream by pushing my body as far as it will let me. After my first ten rounds since learning to walk again my index is sitting at 6.2: dropped from a 9.7(able bodied cap), which is hard to believe, even for me. I also hope to lower my cap enough to challenge the PAT and potentially become a PGA teaching professional to develop training specifically for disabilities. In the meantime, if I can raise enough money next season I hope to play the VGT and maybe even be able to walk portions of the course instead of needing a power cart everywhere.
In closing I cannot say enough how grateful I am for this opportunity to get back into the game of golf. I look forward to helping organize the adaptive clinic for sometime late summer/early fall and bringing the game of golf to people who might have thought it might not be for them. If you see someone walking like a flamingo or looking like they have had too many beers, that is just me! Feel free to say Hi and introduce yourself as I look forward to meeting everyone as I am around the course more often.