Inspiring Decatur golfer inspired by others at tournament for amputees

DECATUR – Decatur’s Roe Skidmore Jr. went to Nashville, Tenn., this week to play in the 62nd annual National Amputee Golf Association Tournament, hoping he might inspire just one person.
When he returned Friday, he did so realizing the person who’d been most inspired was himself.

Decatur's Roe Skidmore Jr. tracks his bunker shot at the 2009 Signature Cup competition at Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur. Herald & Review/Kelly J. Huff

Oh, surely Skidmore was an inspiration, too. He won the overall tournament championship by 10 strokes, shooting 69-70-71 over 54 holes, six under par. Local golfers who know him as a member of the Decatur Signature Cup golf team and a rock-solid competitor who has never let his prosthetic right leg stand in his way won’t be surprised that Skidmore tore up the Gaylord Springs Golf Links course. He’s that good.
But Skidmore, who called this the greatest experience of his golf career, was stunned by the impact other amputee golfers had on him.
“I went out there thinking I might inspire somebody, but I ended up being very inspired by everybody else,” he said. “There are guys a heck of a lot worse off than me who are getting it done. I really can’t put it into words what this was like.”
Skidmore said his jaw dropped when he watched a man with just one withered arm play with a self-developed back-handed swing. “He shot 86 or 87 and just blew me away,” he said.
He was stunned to see a surgeon who had lost an arm in a hunting accident. “He hit the ball fantastic,” Skidmore said. “He could get it out there 280 yards.”
And while Skidmore’s amputation as a young child was the result of a birth defect, he said 95 percent of the golfers were in the tournament due to injuries or accidents: boating mishaps, electrocution, construction accidents. All have gone to great lengths to create a golf swing that overcomes that setback.
Used to being the one who is looked at, Skidmore caught himself doing the looking. “My mouth was open the whole week,” he said.
Ironically, the magnitude of the tournament hit Skidmore full force Thursday, just before the start of the final round. He entered the day with a nine-shot lead and began contemplating what winning this tournament might mean.
All of a sudden, he was hit with something he never experiences on the golf course, even in major competitions: nerves.
“I was a basket case for a while,” he said. “I turned into a bundle of nerves. I don’t know how to explain it, but I started thinking about the big picture, about how much it would mean to win it, and I was four over par after six holes.”
The golfer who was nine shots back had pulled to within three.
Watching from the fringe, his mother, JoAnn Swansen, knew something was amiss, so she jumped into his cart and had a heart-to-heart talk.
“She said, ‘What the heck is going on with you? You look out of place out there.’ I said, ‘I’m nervous.’ “
So Mom did what she’s done throughout her son’s life. She gave it to him straight.
“She said, ‘Cut it out and get your act together,’ and I did. When it was over, I thanked her up and down. That really made a difference.”
Skidmore, 40, who works at Eichenauer Services Inc., won going away and, as a result, will have his expenses paid to next year’s tournament in Phoenix. He was also named to the United States National Amputee team that will play against an international field in a match play event at the same venue next year in Arizona.
The National Amputee Golf Association Tournament is divided into divisions based on the type and severity of the amputation. For those with amputated legs, there is a group for those whose amputations are below the knee and another for those whose amputations are above the knee.
The absence of a knee makes the game of golf more difficult, and that’s a challenge Skidmore has dealt with all of his life. In winning the overall title, he became the first above-the-knee amputee to win in 23 years.
None of which made Skidmore want to pat himself on the back.
Instead, he was still shaking his head about the other golfers he had seen playing so well, pushing aside challenges beyond what he feels he has ever faced.
His wife, Penny, was there to witness his championship. “We both had a great experience,” he said. “And I made friends that will last a lifetime.”
Skidmore was a bit reluctant to play in this event but was convinced to enter by his orthopedic doctor in Springfield. Now, he can’t wait until next year.
“It was unreal, and I absolutely intend to go again,” he said. “I still can’t believe what I witnessed this week.”

DECATUR – Decatur’s Roe Skidmore Jr. went to Nashville, Tenn., this week to play in the 62nd annual National Amputee Golf Association Tournament, hoping he might inspire just one person.When he returned Friday, he did so realizing the person who’d been most inspired was himself.Oh, surely Skidmore was an inspiration, too. He won the overall tournament championship by 10 strokes, shooting 69-70-71 over 54 holes, six under par. Local golfers who know him as a member of the Decatur Signature Cup golf team and a rock-solid competitor who has never let his prosthetic right leg stand in his way won’t be surprised that Skidmore tore up the Gaylord Springs Golf Links course. He’s that good.But Skidmore, who called this the greatest experience of his golf career, was stunned by the impact other amputee golfers had on him.”I went out there thinking I might inspire somebody, but I ended up being very inspired by everybody else,” he said. “There are guys a heck of a lot worse off than me who are getting it done. I really can’t put it into words what this was like.”Skidmore said his jaw dropped when he watched a man with just one withered arm play with a self-developed back-handed swing. “He shot 86 or 87 and just blew me away,” he said.He was stunned to see a surgeon who had lost an arm in a hunting accident. “He hit the ball fantastic,” Skidmore said. “He could get it out there 280 yards.”And while Skidmore’s amputation as a young child was the result of a birth defect, he said 95 percent of the golfers were in the tournament due to injuries or accidents: boating mishaps, electrocution, construction accidents. All have gone to great lengths to create a golf swing that overcomes that setback.Used to being the one who is looked at, Skidmore caught himself doing the looking. “My mouth was open the whole week,” he said.Ironically, the magnitude of the tournament hit Skidmore full force Thursday, just before the start of the final round. He entered the day with a nine-shot lead and began contemplating what winning this tournament might mean.All of a sudden, he was hit with something he never experiences on the golf course, even in major competitions: nerves.”I was a basket case for a while,” he said. “I turned into a bundle of nerves. I don’t know how to explain it, but I started thinking about the big picture, about how much it would mean to win it, and I was four over par after six holes.”The golfer who was nine shots back had pulled to within three.Watching from the fringe, his mother, JoAnn Swansen, knew something was amiss, so she jumped into his cart and had a heart-to-heart talk.”She said, ‘What the heck is going on with you? You look out of place out there.’ I said, ‘I’m nervous.’ “So Mom did what she’s done throughout her son’s life. She gave it to him straight.”She said, ‘Cut it out and get your act together,’ and I did. When it was over, I thanked her up and down. That really made a difference.”Skidmore, 40, who works at Eichenauer Services Inc., won going away and, as a result, will have his expenses paid to next year’s tournament in Phoenix. He was also named to the United States National Amputee team that will play against an international field in a match play event at the same venue next year in Arizona.The National Amputee Golf Association Tournament is divided into divisions based on the type and severity of the amputation. For those with amputated legs, there is a group for those whose amputations are below the knee and another for those whose amputations are above the knee.The absence of a knee makes the game of golf more difficult, and that’s a challenge Skidmore has dealt with all of his life. In winning the overall title, he became the first above-the-knee amputee to win in 23 years.None of which made Skidmore want to pat himself on the back.Instead, he was still shaking his head about the other golfers he had seen playing so well, pushing aside challenges beyond what he feels he has ever faced.His wife, Penny, was there to witness his championship. “We both had a great experience,” he said. “And I made friends that will last a lifetime.”Skidmore was a bit reluctant to play in this event but was convinced to enter by his orthopedic doctor in Springfield. Now, he can’t wait until next year.”It was unreal, and I absolutely intend to go again,” he said. “I still can’t believe what I witnessed this week.”

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