WHEN KEN GREEN TEES it up on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, he will likely be the first amputee to play in the Senior PGA Championship. Green will be allowed to use a golf cart. The 53-year-old tour veteran was granted an exemption because he was a U.S. Ryder Cup team member in 1989.
“I’m really psyched about the opportunity to play in the championship, because it’s a wonderful venue and a wonderful championship,” Green said at PGA.com.
Good for Ken Green. The man has been through hell.
In June 2009 a right-front tire on Green’s RV blew out on a Mississippi interstate highway. Green and passengers tumbled down an embankment and struck a large oak tree, killing everyone except Green—his brother, his girl friend and his dog, a German Shepard that Green once rescued from an alligator attack in Florida. Not long after the former PGA Tour player lost his right leg below the knee and was fitted with a prosthetic limb. Green vowed that he would return to golf one day.
Then tragedy struck again in January 2010 when Green’s 21-year-old son was found dead in a dorm room at Southern Methodist University. An autopsy revealed that a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs was the cause of death.
Green’s golf comeback began about a year ago when he teamed with Mike Reid for a 26th-place tie at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Savannah, Georgia. He played in two more 2010 events and averaged just over 75 strokes per round. Not bad for an amputee competing on the Champions Tour, but certainly not the brash Ken Green who won five times on the PGA Tour.
The truth is, the scores and money totals don’t matter much now. Just playing again is a major victory for a man who has lost his son, girl friend, brother, dog and leg.
“I believe that my story may be good for someone who has suffered a similar fate,” Green said. “If I can serve as any encouragement to someone missing a limb or possibly a parent who may be able to bring a kid to the course, I feel my time will be well spent.”
−The Armchair Golfer
(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)