Westview may buy special mobility golf car

Monday, July 23, 2007 - By Steve Eighinger
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy Park District is examining the possibility of buying a specially designed golf car to allow mobility-impaired individuals better access to Westview Golf Course.

The single-rider golf car provides a seat that can be raised to put the mobility-impaired golfer in various positions from seated to near-standing. The car also may be used on greens because its weight distribution reportedly translates into fewer pounds per square inch than the human foot.

"I think we'll move pretty quick on this," said Matt Burry, director of golf at Westview. "We have quite a few golfers who I think this would benefit. This would also be a good thing for some of our seniors. This car allows total access to the golf course."

The golf car in question costs $8,500 and is manufactured by SoloRider Management LLC of Centennial, Colo., a company that dates to 1991. In 2002, SoloRider received the Da Vinci Award from the Engineering Society of Detroit in recognition of innovations that empowered all people, regardless of physical ability.

Monroe Berkman, an avid golfer, polio survivor and longtime user of the SoloRider golf car, bought the company in 2004. Some of the SoloRider golf car's attributes include:

* Stand-up, multi-position, 360-degree swivel seat.
* Strong hill-climbing ability.
* All-course access.
* Top speed of 14 mph, the same as a standard golf car.
* Regenerative braking system

Burry, who said the four city courses in Springfield recently bought a SoloRider for each of the courses, met with SoloRider officials earlier this month who brought one of the golf cars to Westview.

Quincy real estate appraiser Virgil Frese and his wife, Connie, were at Westview for the demonstration. Virgil, who is paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a spinal cord injury in January 2006, gave a thumbs-up to the golf car.

"I'm 6-foot-3, and my legs are long, and it is hard to swing a club sitting down in a normal golf car," Virgil Frese said. "This stands me up and makes it easier. The club doesn't hit my legs when I swing."

Before Virgil's injury, the Freses played golf up to five times a week, either as a couple or individually. They did extensive research into assistance for mobility impaired golfers and eventually shared their findings with friend Tom Behrens, a member of the Park District Board of Commissioners, who in turn worked with Executive Director Mike Parks to further explore additional assistance for those whose mobility is impaired.

Connie Frese said the golf car also has a track record aiding those who have been victims of strokes or suffer from arthritis, hip replacements and similar physical problems.

For more information about this subject, contact Burry at Westview (223-7499) or the Park District offices (223-7703).

Contact Staff Writer Steve Eighinger at seighinger@whig.com or (217) 221-3377