A recreation program that's helped the disabled to fish, visit the beach and play tennis is expanding to the golf course.
The Toy Library and Technology Learning Center at USM now has a specially designed golf cart and golf clubs for people in wheelchairs.
"I grew up playing golf. I used to actually beg my brother just to go and caddy for him, just to be able to go out on a golf course," said Brian Chatham as he tested a new golf cart designed for the disabled.
Those memories were the closest the Pass Christian resident got to a golf course, until now.
New equipment gives Chatham and other wheelchair bound golfers the assistance they need to play the game they love.
"The cart is actually so user friendly. It's just totally accessible for anything and everything you need. You can actually come out by yourself if you want. You can do everything that you need. You can put the ball down. You can tee the ball up," he said.
Rodger Clark says the custom cart is a real advancement in expanding a sport which had been limited to able bodied golfers.
"It allows you to never leave the golf cart. You tee off from it. You putt from it. You do all your driving from it. It's an excellent piece of equipment," said Clark.
The special golf clubs feature a built in swivel that allows disabled golfers to adjust the angle. The unique hinge allows for easier hitting from the sitting position.
"These have offsets on them toward the end of the shaft where they can be bent in one direction or another. Because a lot of times you can't reach over far enough or your knees are in the way where it has to come over and you have to have some sort of offset," Chatham explained.
The disabled cart and clubs are available free, thanks to a partnership between USM and Tramark.
Holly Patterson is recreation director for the USM Technology Learning Center.
"Tramark has allowed us to keep the golf cart here and let anybody with a disability play golf for free, with no greens fees or anything. So it's here for people to use. We have specially adapted clubs," Patterson said.
Brian Chatham is already looking forward to his golf outings.
"I already gave notice to my wife that I'll be out here on a regular basis, playing golf again," he said, smiling.
The Toy Library and Technology Learning Center are located on the Long Beach campus of USM. The program has a variety of recreation equipment available for the disabled.
For more information you can contact the center at (228) 867-2636.