North American One-Armed Golf Championship Tournament Comes To Northern Michigan

Imagine playing golf with just one arm.

That’s the reality for about 50 golfers at Treetops Resort in Gaylord this week.

One-armed golfers from all over the world are here, facing off in the National One-Arm Golf Championship.

9&10’s Lauren Scafidi shares their inspiring stories.

Some of the golfers were born with one arm and say that’s all they’ve ever known.

Others have lost their arm in a traumatic incident – so they say getting back to playing golf was a both a physical and mental challenge. 

"I was kind of depressed ya know I’ve been broken up, beat up, and going through a lot of therapy, recovery, I just didn’t have the spark to do it again," Jeff Dawley said. 

Jeff was in a car accident in 2011 – forever changing the way he would play this sport he’s loved his whole life. 

"Pretty much had to give up golf because my left arm was useless," he said. "I loved golf so much, I missed it so much, I wanted to figure out a way to get back into but quite frankly, it’s just the mental aspect of trying to get over the embarrassment — you’re not going to be the same swinging one arm and to be afraid of hitting a bad shot."

After three years of encouragement from his friends — one shot changed it all.

"I finally agreed, I said I would go up to the first tee and I would take one swing and if I hit the ball anywhere near straight then I would promise to keep playing," Jeff said. "I hit it and it went right down the middle and I just broke down and started crying."

Not everyone competing has lost their arm in an accident — some were born with only one arm.

Like Jesse Florkowski — he’s the number one ranked one-armed golfer in the world. 

"It means everything …knowing that I have the game to compete against some of the best one-armed golfers in the world. I look forward to it every year," Jesse said.

This is Jesse’s fourth year here — earning the championship title every year he’s been here. 

Steven Day was also born with one arm, and is no stranger to this competition.

"All 17 times — we have had 17 championships and I’ve been in every one of them," he said. 

While they’re all here to defend their national championship titles from 2016 — there’s a more important message they want to convey.

"Find that thing that motivates you to get of bed every day and go pursue something that brings you joy," Jeff said. 

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