Friday comments from some Special Olympics golfers and family members

By Sherry Major
Published on

Nate Simons, age 23, Reading, Mass. – Level III 18-hole Unified Sports Team Play
Nate likes the course here at Wigam and is enjoying watching other athletes play. His favorite part of the tournament so far is the weather and the atmosphere at the tournament. He said it has been a great day to be outdoors and play some golf. When asked what he likes the most about Special Olympics golf, he replied, "I love everything!"

Tammy Chambers, age 39, Manitoba, Canada – Level IV 9-hole Individual Stroke Play
Tammy has been participating in Special Olympics for 18 years and has played golf for five years. This is her first time to the North American tournament. Her favorite part of the day was competing against another athlete when they both ended up in the sand trap. The other athlete gave her a run for her money and she said she enjoyed the challenge. She likes the longer drives that the course offers and loves to give the ball “a good whack!” Tammy's favorite part in playing golf is chipping and meeting new people.

Ian Swain, age 38, Manitoba, Canada – Level IV 9-hole Individual Stroke Play
Ian has been participating in Special Olympics for 12 years and has been playing golf for 10 years. This is his first time to the North American tournament and got to run the torch in during Opening Ceremony. Ian made par on five of his nine holes today, a personal best. Ian has never seen a course like this and likes the challenge it offers. "It really tests your skills and choice in playing -- do you be bold and just go for it? Or do you hold back?" said Ian. His favorite part of golf is learning new skills and the fact that "it not only challenges your body but your mind, too."

Scott Davis, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Level V 18-hole Individual Stroke Play
Scott has been participating in Special Olympics for three years but has been playing golf for 24 years. Scott said he is having a wonderful time in the fresh air and on the challenging course. He likes meeting new people and just wants to have fun.

David Curtain, age 26, Springfield, Va. – Level V 18-hole Individual Stroke Play
David has been participating in Special Olympics for 18 years and has been playing golf for 12 years. During the first round David shot several pars and said the loves the open course. The best part about playing golf for David is being outdoors and active. He says, "You can have fun with golf no matter what skill level." Special Olympics has opened doors for David like being able to travel to Arizona for the golf tournament.

Spencer Holt, age 31, Suffolk, Va. – Level II 9-hole Unified Sports® Team Play
Spencer Holt is competing with his Unified Partner Lee Blount, also from Suffolk, Virginia. This was a weekend of firsts for Spencer, who took a plane for the first time to arrive in Arizona, a state he had not been to before. As a Level II athlete, Spencer and his partner Lee alternated shots over nine holes and Spencer proudly scored a 52 for the day. Spencer recalled his favorite moment of the day came when "I hit a one inch putt half an inch." Spencer and Lee shared a laugh over that show and while he might not have sank the putt on that hole, the moments Spencer and Lee shared today are providing a scorecard full of memories for the twosome from Virginia.

Ashlyn Knight, age 13, Mt. Pleasant, S.C. – Level I Individual Skills Competition
Ashlyn has been playing golf with her dad since she was just three years old. She is here today with her mother, Melissa Pridemore, who is not a golfer herself but is offering her support throughout the day. While Ashlyn learned "how to hit long and short chip shots today," it’s her experience outside of the golf course that has provided life-changing moments for Ashlyn and Melissa. "This is the first time in her life that Ashlyn has stayed and traveled with someone other than her family," her mother noted. "Now Ashlyn wants to hang out with the other athletes instead of just me, so to see that type of personal development with her on this trip is pretty amazing." While athletes like Ashlyn learn specific sport skills as part of the Special Olympics, it is often the bond that is created and strengthened between the athlete and friends, parents and coaches that provide the experiences that will last a lifetime.

David Henline, age 32, Carroll County, Md. – Level I Individual Skills Competition
Special Olympics athlete David Henline is here in Arizona with his father Tony at their first Special Olympics Golf North America Golf Invitational Tournament. While Tony has been golfing for more than 20 years, this is David's fifth year on the golf course and their first Special Olympics tournament together. As a Level I golfer, David and his dad spend their time together working on six skill areas of golf, and playing together is exactly why they joined the Special Olympics. "Being able to get on the golf course together is why we joined this program, but what really impresses me is the work of all the volunteers," Tony said. "They show their passion and their heart through the time they spend helping the athletes learn the game, and we both really appreciate that."

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