SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Oct. 11, 2019) — A guitar, a fishing pole and a set of golf clubs.
Those were the options offered to Deegan Bee, after doctors instructed his parents to “get creative” with his activities following his traumatic brain injury (TBI) at 7-years-old.
“I was just bad at playing it,” Deegan said of the guitar.
As for fishing? “I don’t like taking fish off the pole. It’s terrible."
As he travels to Scottsdale as one of 120 boys and girls competing in the 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental at Grayhawk Golf Club, you can guess which activity he landed on five years ago.
Deegan, now 13, comes from a motocross family. His dad builds tracks on the side. He grew up racing and grew into a local champion in his sport.
On Father’s Day 2013, Deegan and his family were at the track practicing for an event the next day. On the very last lap, and on the very last jump, Deegan crashed badly. He was knocked unconscious and life-flighted to the hospital. Despite flat-lining in the emergency room, and remaining unconscious for another three days, Deegan made a miraculous recovery.
“He was so young that no one quite knew what exactly would be damaged in his brain,” said Deegan’s Dad, Jeremy Bee.
Deegan required daily supervision and help from his parents and others at school. He struggled with depth perception, double vision and balance issues. However, he’s slowly but surely worked through them. Deegan still makes regular visits to the Akron Children’s Hospital to monitor his recovery.
The TBI meant no running, riding bikes or playing with friends… and that’s tough for any kid.
“He kind of lost his character as a kid,” added Jeremy Bee. “He was a big, bad dirt bike racer. All of a sudden, he’s the kid who can’t play with friends at recess."
When he was eventually cleared for activities, it still meant contact sports were out of the question, which meant no more motocross.
The Bees were not a golfing family, so they had no familiarity with the sport.
“Before my accident, I didn’t even know what golf was,” said Deegan.
When the doctor suggested golf and said he could be the next Rickie Fowler, who also made a pivot from motocross to golf, their response was in unison: “Who’s that?”
Following a round or two of putt-putt––and looking up who Rickie Fowler was––Deegan decided he’d like to give golf a try. A friend of the Bees who was a former collegiate golfer recognized the potential of his swing, and the rest was history.
“Golf helped Deegan stay focused, keep his mind sharp and focus on something that wasn’t simply sitting around,” said mom Lynda Bee. “It’s healing to stay active, both mentally and physically. Golf helped him get his independence back.”
After meeting Team Ohio Coach Chris Reed, Deegan joined the Mallard Creek PGA Jr. League program led by PGA Professional Jim Wise. This is his first year on the All-Star Team––which is making its fifth consecutive trip to the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental––and it’s quite remarkable, considering where he once was.
“I’ve been watching Deegan and his dad [Jeremy] for a while now,” said Chris. “I’ve never seen anything negative come from his dad. It was just encouragement… enjoying time with one another. I think a lot of his recovery came from that time with his dad.”
His parents are not only proud of the recovery their son has made, but also the encouragement and mentorship he’s shown to younger kids on his PGA Jr. League team. It’s something his coaches have taken notice of, too.
“When Deegan is able to help a kid, it’s the highlight of his day,” added Jeremy. “They all really look up to him. That’s the best part of PGA Jr. League – watching your child teach younger kids.”
Chris agreed wholeheartedly. “Every single time he played a match, he mentored other kids, just like someone else has done for him. And that’s why he’s on this team today,” the Team Ohio Coach added.
Today, Deegan is a happy, healthy 13-year-old who’s simply glad to have found this game.
“Getting into this sport was life-changing,” said Deegan. “It was knowing that I wasn’t going to get hurt. It’s so relaxing and fun.”
Editor’s Note: The 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, kicks off tomorrow (Oct. 12), with 12 All-Star Teams of junior golfers. They are divided into two divisions––Ryder and Wanamaker––and compete against their divisional teams throughout the day Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning (Oct. 12-14), before divisional winners compete for the national title Monday afternoon.
The PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental kicks off Saturday at Grayhawk Golf Club at 7:45 a.m. MST/10:45 a.m. EDT. Deegan Bee’s Team Ohio will face Team Minnesota beginning at 8:45 a.m. local Arizona time, as they compete amongst 12 teams for the national title. A two-hour highlight show will debut on ESPN2 on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. EST/12 p.m. PST. ESPN will be the new broadcast network of the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental.