St Andrews golfing charity honours Vietnam veteran

Double amputee golfer Mike Reeder
Double amputee golfer Mike Reeder

DOUBLE amputee Mike Reeder, who became the first-ever wheelchair golfer to complete a round over the world-famous Old Course at the Home of Golf, has been made an honorary Friend of the Keepers of the Green charity in St Andrews.

The 64-year-old Vietnam War veteran from Tennessee, who lost his legs below the knee in a booby trap bomb explosion during combat, realised a dream to play over the championship links in the summer of 2010.

He carded a superb 79 and earned the admiration of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, a two-time winner of the Open Championship in St Andrews in 1970 and again in 1978.

His visit to St Andrews was funded by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which supports people with physical challenges by providing grants for training, competition and equipment, and was the subject of a special television documentary.

He has been playing wheelchair golf for 22 years and his feat over the Old Course links has been recognised by Keepers of the Green - an international golfing fellowship, founded in 1995 and based in St Andrews - who invited him to become an honorary Friend.

Patron of the charity, internationally-renowned golf historian, David Joy, told the Citizen: ”Mike’s moving and poignant story was filmed by ESPN, who followed him on his trip to St Andrews. We are delighted that he has accepted our invitation to become an honorary Friend.”

Mr Joy also appeared in the documentary and, in addition, completed a drawing of Mike on the Swilcan Bridge which was later presented to him. A copy of the original hangs in the town’s Dunvegan Hotel, which houses scores of images charting the history and winners of the Open Championship and other major golfing events held in St Andrews.

The charity’s mission is to promote the game of golf and to improve lives through powered mobility and - since its formation - its extensive fundraising activities have resulted in life-changing experiences for over 200 people, who have been presented with powered wheelchairs valued at more than £700,000.

In line with its objective to promote the heritage of the game of golf, Keepers was also established as the first-ever golfing tribute to Old Tom Morris, who made such an outstanding contribution to the game during his lifetime.

The locally-born legend is the figurehead of the unique golfing organisation, also particularly appropriate given that one of his sons was severely disabled, but which did not prevent him working in his father’s clubmaker’s shop overlooking the 18th green of the Old Course.