"Leave No Trace"
The Black Course, Bethpage
August 1, 2006
Everything changed, yet remained the same. For the first time in history two men in single rider golf cars played Bethpage's Black Course. From tee to fairway to green they left no trace. The tranquility of a course sans golf cars was not disturbed. The greens showed no signs of tire imprints from the vehicles in which they rode.
Technology has finally caught up, providing disabled golfers with a vehicle capable of providing a safe means of navigating difficult terrain. Playing a course such as The Black required the players to adapt their individual games to the course, not the other way around. Moving silently around the course, the vehicles provided the means for each man to play his own game with a minimum impact on the course itself.
Marty Ebel, an above the knee double amputee is "one" with his single rider golf car. The seat of his car swivels to allow him to strike the ball from a seated position. He cannot drive his golf car into bunkers unless the lip is level with the surrounding grass and the sand in the bunker is firm. He is also restricted from driving into the environmentally sensitive fescue which makes up the rough on all 18 holes of The Black. If an incline is too steep he must drop his ball in the safest place available and play it from there. On the green he will drive to his ball and bump the ball a few inches if necessary in order to putt. For Marty, as for all golfers, it is about the player testing his ability against the course.
Bob Wilson's challenges are different. A double below the knee amputee, Wilson is able to exit his golf car and play from fescue. He can navigate some, but not all of the bunkers on The Black. He can leave his golf car at the edge of the green and walk to his ball. He never will be able to walk 18 holes of golf.
Both men are skilled golfers. They know their limitations and what they are capable of and not capable of doing on the course. On August 1st they were given the opportunity to test the technology- SoloRider's single rider golf car- to determine what modifications to play would be needed for a golfer playing from a single rider golf car to enjoy the experience of playing The Black. Their observations will be reviewed by Bethpage staff in the coming weeks. History was made that day - with only a whisper…
August 5, 2006
Nancy Howatt Wilson