Flying 'Solo'
By Brian Gartlan, The Star

Calling the purchase Square Links Golf Course's best investment in recent history, officials expressed their delight with two new SoloRider golf carts.

Jim Randall, Frankfort Square Park District executive director, said the purchase of the two golf carts significantly helps golfers with limited mobility who want to play golf at the park district-owned golf course on St. Francis Road.

"We wanted to offer a positive and inexpensive golf experience to our special-needs community," Randall said. "It was the best thing we did last year and I look forward to adding more SoloRiders to our fleet in the future."

The district purchased the two carts in the spring to enable disabled golfers to play because the cart features a specialized seat, which rotates and lifts players to help them hit their shots without leaving the comfort and safety of their vehicle.

Since golfing and swinging a golf club involves of a lot of walking and standing, the game places a burden on golfers with disabilities.

Bob Guler, supervisor of golf operations, said golf courses should provide accessible golf carts with a stand-up seat. He estimated the seat could accommodate nearly 5 million Americans with disabilities by allowing their swing to clear their knees.

"It's simple," he said, noting that Square Links is the only golf course in the Southland that has the specialized golf cart.

"We think golfing should be available to everyone in the community."

Joe Kerwin said he used to play golf at least twice a week with friends before his legs were amputated nearly three years ago. He said he thought he would never be able to play the game again.

However, it turned out with the help of the cart, Kerwin was able to play golf twice this summer.

"My scores are terrible, but it lets me play golf," said the 71-year-old Manteno man, who was introduced to the SoloRider by his daughter, who lives in Frankfort Square. "I think I am the first one to use it that actually needed it.
I appreciate the cart."

Kerwin added that he felt safe on the hand controlled cart, which could travel anywhere on the course, but he admitted it is difficult to play with straps and his game is not as good as it once was.

Each cart costs about $8,500, which is nearly double the price of an average golf cart, but the carts could be rented for as little as $6 a round.

Guler estimated the carts are used at least twice a day for solo golfers. "They're really popular with senior citizens,"
he said