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by Garrett Appleton
The small town of Golden, BC, had never seen such a young golfing talent like Garrett Appleton. A golfer whose amazing youth and declining handicap were most impressive since Garrett had been dealing with epilepsy caused by meningitis at four months old. At the tender age of 5, Appleton held a pitching wedge in his hand and was displaying a natural golf swing. This was before he could tie his shoes.
Every Saturday saw Garrett at the Junior Golf Club to join up with some junior members at the local driving range. His parents, seeing that need for him, enrolled him at the local golf course. Once he turned ten years old, he hit the golf course for the first time with his sister, and golfed every Monday all the way through elementary school. Appleton didn’t have many true friends that understood him like his family did, so Garrett had to find a positive environment to get motivation from. That’s when the inner peace started in his life.
“Golfing to me is kind of like going to church,” Garrett explains. “No one judges you. You are your own critic facing the many challenges that life has to offer. Much like each golf hole offers new obstacles to tackle, you must learn to contemplate and then choose a strategy to face it and come out successful. I’m at peace playing golf.” This inner peace has helped Garrett’s mind become stronger and he uses that strength to fight off impending seizures while concentrating on his golf game.
Brain Surgery to Remove Left Temporal Lobe
After brain surgery to his left temporal lobe at the age of 15, golf helped him pull through recovery quicker. Garrett’s talent began to blossom after pinpointing a shot in his first attempt in front of a course professional instructor who was shocked at the natural ability of this young golfer. Garret underwent another brain surgery in 2010, which improved his coordination, and thus, his golf game got even better. He moved to Victoria, BC in late 2012 and played as much golf as possible while also working on his cognitive rehabilitation, his personal education, and a goal of living independently.
Mike Weir, the famous, small stature, left handed, Canadian champion golfer has inspired Garrett. “Mike Weir made people realize that you don’t have to be six feet tall and a powerhouse to win a green jacket (The Masters). If you know what you’re capable of and golf within your limitations, your natural ability combined with the many, many hours of practice will help you rise to the occasion,” Garrett says emphatically.
In July 2014, at the par 67 Cedar Hills golf course in Victoria, BC, Garrett shot an impressive round of 75. Happy with the result after being away from golf for a few months to seek employment, this strong competitor knew the round could have been even better. “That score of 75 could have been much less. I lipped out 8 par putts and 3 birdie putts,” Appleton laughed. “Wait until next week.”
Special Olympics Golf Program
As a member and mentor of the Special Olympics golf program, Garrett has opportunity to inspire others with a disability to have a positive outlook on life and do whatever you can despite being disabled. “The Special Olympics teaches me kindness by helping others to succeed in doing something that they are passionate about.”
Garrett works and attends college, both on a part-time basis. He is well on his way to swinging for gold in life and in the game of golf. With a sparkle in his eye, Garrett states, “I started in the rough early on in my life and now I find myself on the fairway approaching my desired location.”
“I’d be honored to be judged as the poster boy for persons with a disability. Don’t be invisible: Be seen. Play hard”. -G. Appleton (2014)
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The Cridge Centre for the Family
1307 Hillside Avenue,
Victoria, B.C. Canada V8T 0A2