Rockford native makes history at inaugural US Adaptive Open

Deborah Smith is one of 96 golfers at this year’s US Adaptive Open
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 12:12 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Like most golfers, Deborah Smith got into golf when she was just a kid.

“I was introduced to golf by my parents when they signed me up for lessons through the Rockford Park District,” Smith said.

Smith would quickly lose out on her golfing capabilities though.

In the summer of 1981, between her freshman and sophomore years as a student at the University of Iowa, Smith and her boyfriend were involved in a motorbike accident. The accident ended up killing Smith’s boyfriend and left the Rockford native critically injured. Smith could still walk but missed out on a lot of her favorite activities due to restricted mobility, in 2015 she would go on to partially amputate her leg.

Following the amputation, Smith would find a passion for golf once again.

“I’ve been competing in adaptive golf tournaments across the country for the past four years,” Smith said.

She traveled all across the country to compete and eventually landed a spot at the inaugural US Adaptive Open at Pinehurst No. 6.

“I was in disbelief, many of us were in disbelief, it’s just such a privilege to be here and represent adaptive golf and bring more awareness to it, that’s most of our goal I mean for all of our competitors here it’s incredible to be a part of,” Smith said.

Golfers at this year’s open are divided into different impairment categories including leg impairments, arm impairments, multiple limb amputations, visual impairments, seated players, short stature, and intellectual impairments.

Smith hopes her time at the Open inspires the next generation of Stateline adaptive golfers.

“I hope this brings other people in Rockford with disabilities into the game and considering just even trying golf, even if you don’t go out on the course and play, just to swing a club and make contact with the ball can be so fulfilling and empowering,” Smith said.

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