They said I’d never walk again. Now I’m driving a new era of golf

They said I’d never walk again. Now I’m driving a new era of golf

James Gribble is a quadriplegic golfer and founder of Empower Golf. James combines his passions for golf and helping those with disabilities to change people’s lives.

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The sun beats down on James Gribble as he lines up his driver with the ball. He eyes the trajectory, and takes aim. A few years ago, this would have been nothing remarkable for the avid golfer. With a lifelong passion for the sport, Gribble spent countless days ambling on courses. But today, his approach to golf is vastly different. As a quadriplegic, it’s a miracle that he can even grip a club at all. 

In 2008, an accident changed Gribble’s life. Feeling light-headed, he fell backwards off his seat onto hard sand and broke his neck. Doctors told Gribble that he would never walk again, let alone play golf. It has taken everything in him to prove them wrong. On Gribble’s first night in hospital, paralysed everywhere but his head, he visualised playing 18 holes at his favourite course. Determined to get back onto the fairway he’d imagined in the ward, he focused on achieving the seemingly impossible feat. For four years, Gribble used all of his strength – both mental and physical – to regain abilities like lifting his arm and taking a few steps on crutches. Soon enough, he was ready to return to the green. 

Using an all-terrain wheelchair called a ParaGolfer, specially designed to enable people to stand up and play, Gribble can finally do what he had been longing for. “Being able to play golf again made me feel normal,” he says. Today, Gribble works to support those in a similar position. He founded Empower Golf Australia, an initiative that helps people with disabilities get back into playing golf, or pick it up for the first time. To date, Gribble has introduced over 10 000 people to the game. He relied on his passion to see himself through an extraordinary change. Now, he’s inspiring others to do the same. “Golf gave me my life back,” Gribble says.

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A paralysing accident took him off course, but this golfer found his way back to the green.

Posted by Beautiful News on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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