The Case For Carts

Disabled soldierscan play golf if given the tools they deserve
October 30, 2006

I am not agolfer. For the congressman who represents Pebble Beach, that is probablyblasphemy, but it's the truth. I do enjoy watching others play, however.Several years ago I was introduced to a gentleman who played golf from the backof a golf cart because he was disabled and couldn't use his legs. The cart wasspecially designed to allow him to address the ball as if he didn't have anyphysical impairment.

Fast-forward acouple of years and shift from the courses of Pebble Beach to the amputee wardat Walter Reed Army Medical Center. No matter what your political view is onthe war in Iraq, I think we all agree that once our troops are engaged, it'sonly right that they get the resources they need to do their job. And for thosewho return to America injured, it's only right that they get the health careand rehabilitative services they need to get back to active and productivelives.

I have spent timeat Walter Reed with soldiers who are recovering amputees. During those visitsI've become familiar with the physical therapy the patients endure--anexhaustive regimen that is designed to bring these warrior-athletes back to aphysical state that will enable them to participate in sports just asable-bodied folks do. Jogging, biking, basketball and golf are all part of theprogram.

When it comes togolf, though, there is a cruel twist: The program at Walter Reed doesn't havethe equipment to actually put people on the course. Sure, they can regain theirstrength, flexibility and balance, and learn how to swing a club, but to reallyplay they would need special golf carts. These single-rider carts are drivenwith hand controls and have a swivel seat that lifts the golfer up so that hecan properly address the ball. They also have tires that are specially designednot to damage the delicate grass on the greens.

It wouldn't be sobad if these newly rehabilitated golfers were released into a world thatprovided the specialty carts, but most public courses don't have them and,sadly, neither do the approximately 150 military bases with courses where manyveterans and retirees play. This is particularly painful because federal lawrequires the Department of Defense to provide the carts, but the Pentagon hasbeen slow to do so.

Something neededto be done. Earlier this year I introduced language into the FY 2007 DefenseAuthorization bill (H.R. 5122) that set a timetable for the Department ofDefense to figure out how to get these carts to the injured soldiers who needthem. On Oct. 17 President Bush signed the bill into law, meaning that theefforts at physical rehabilitation through golf will not be in vain, and thesereturned soldiers will lead a fuller life once the Defense Department fulfillsits responsibilities under federal law.

For thecongressman who represents Pebble Beach, that's great to know.

Congressman SamFarr (D., Calif.) has represented the Golden State's 17th district for 12years.

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PHOTOJIM CARLSON (CART)ARMY VEHICLE Special carts can help the wounded rehab and recover. FIVE PHOTOSFRED VUICH (MICHELLE WIE); ROBERT BECK (B.J. AND BO WIE, PARACHUTIST); WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY (MORRIS LOGO); PGA TOUR (TOUR LOGO)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)