Community Voice: Leo Goldman, Spreading the Benefits of Golf to Others
Though Leo Goldman has experienced his share of health challenges at the age of 84 - Parkinson's disease, Bronchiectasis, Congestive heart failure, and now anemia - his involvement in golf has allowed him to thrive, and he is convinced that these resources can be equally beneficial for others who have disabilities.
Leo's physician encouraged him to play golf in order to better manage his health, and Leo admits that benefits have included improved morale as well as better physical and emotional health. Not only does it help him be more physically active, but he can commune with nature rather than sitting at home and feeling sorry for himself.
Leo has been an avid golfer for over 47 years and states that "With all of my illnesses, I still play golf an average of 5 times per week." More recently, with the assistance of resources from NCHPAD (http://www.ncpad.org/) and the local Veterans Administration (VA), Leo has learned to adapt his game. With personal assistance and some simple adaptations, Leo can spend his afternoons playing golf with his favorite partner, his wife Pauline.
Leo's personal assistant Christina drives the golf cart up to each tee and throughout the course, as the club permits them, so that he can conserve his energy. Christina also sets the ball on the tee for him, and holds onto two leather loops attached to Leo's belt to assist him with balance while he swings the club. Every so often, after swinging especially vigorously, he may use a reserve oxygen tank that waits in the cart. He wears FootJoy® Dry Joys® because "he can't afford to get his feet wet and catch a cold" and also uses support hose and orthotics in all of his shoes for added support. Finally, Leo always takes Gatorade® with him in the cart to stay hydrated.
Leo's vision is to be able to provide resources and instruction so that more veterans with disabilities in the Miami area can benefit from playing golf. The goals of this program include that transportation and adaptive equipment be provided, as such equipment has been requested from various suppliers. He has requested from the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department that regular time slots be designated at local public courses for veterans with disabilities, and has County Commissioner Sally A. Heyman also backing this request in her ongoing support of people with disabilities. Leo also plans to pursue funding to purchase time on private golf courses if needed. Thus far, a dedicated team of professionals has been formed that includes Chad Maes, a head golf professional and member of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and the Presidential Country Club; Stephanie Boardman, a golf professional and member of the Ladies PGA and the Presidential Country Club who has experience coaching golf for people with disabilities; Lourier Hall, director of the golf shop at the Presidential Country Club; David Breslow, owner of the PGA Driving Range; Marshall Bernstein, D.C., a chiropractic physician; and avid golfer Norman Drucker, a Hall of Fame basketball player and retired NBA referee who has a visual impairment. Leo is also intent on encouraging the local VA to become more involved in providing support.
As Leo says, "If I can accomplish this, I think that people with disabilities can play golf to improve their well-being and morale."