By ISAAC BOURNE | The Arkadelphian
Arkadelphia native Erik Edington finished the Southwest Amputee Golf Tournament with a finish in first last Tuesday.
Edington, who lost a portion of his right arm in a boating accident about 20 years ago, won with a score of 163 in the arm division, competing against an array of others with amputated arms. In his category, the closest player to him was four strokes back at 167. Additionally, Edington finished with the best score overall out of all of the divisions.
This tournament, one of three that are to be hosted this year by the Southwest Amputee Golf Association (SWAGA), was hosted by Winstar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The other two will be hosted June 3-4 in Waco, Texas, and Sept. 23-24 in Brentwood, Texas.
“You have people with missing hands, feet, legs, arms, people in wheelchairs,” said Natasha Goza, Edington’s girlfriend. “An assortment of wonderful people.”
Edington dabbled in golf prior to losing his arm but got serious about the sport after the amputation. It would be his dominant arm that he would lose, although he still swings right-handed. He maintains a sense of humor when his swinging isn’t up to par, “which isn’t often,” admits Goza. “When he hits a bad shot he says, ‘I put too much right hand in it,’” she said.
Edington saw a challenge in playing golf with one hand and took the challenge in stride. “To know him, you know he takes on every challenge given to him,” Goza said. “Losing your dominant hand has to be a struggle, but he still does everything anyone can do, from playing golf to working on cars and golf carts.”
The SWAGA was established 45 years ago by “a couple of amputees who loved playing golf and wanted others to be able to enjoy it” as it says on its website. It started as the Texas/Oklahoma Amputee Golf Association before growing to become what it is today.
“We are a non-profit charitable association founded to help amputees get out and discover there is life after a traumatic injury,” the website says. “Our golfers range in skill from people who shoot 18 hole scores in the 70s to others shooting around 120. We have people ranging in age from teenagers to people in their 80s. Both women and men participate and play in their respective flights.”
The association welcomes new participants, and features amputee golfers from Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Louisiana. They also allow those without amputated limbs to participate.
If interested, they can be contacted at email@example.com or at 512-431-2861, and new members to the team will be welcome additions.