Driskill beat odds to make first ace

Terry Driskill has dealt with people staring at him on a golf course, no doubt wondering how he can possibly enjoy a game that relies heavily leg strength and balance.

The Medford man had his right leg amputated above the knee two years ago because of complications from diabetes, but he's barely missed a step on the golf course, thanks to the use of prosthetics.

If there was a question about his aptitude, it was dispelled when he made a hole-in-one on No. 11 on the outside course at Rogue Valley Country Club Sunday.

It wasn't just his first ace on one leg, it was his first in 24 years of avid play.

"Most of the people here are used to seeing me," says Driskill, "but when we go out of town, people are like, 'Geez, how can he even hit the ball with that going on?' Actually, it's a lot better than it was before. I know that, but they don't know that."

Driskill, 56, made the 165-yard shot to the back left pin with a 5-iron. He was in a group with his wife, Sheri, Gail and Cary Jones and Paul Johnson.

Johnson was a late addition and was as excited as anyone when the group got to green and confirmed the ball was in the cup.

"He started calling everyone," says Driskill, noting that former schoolmate and club member Marshall Holman, who lives near the No. 12 tee box, rushed out to congratulate him moments later.

By the time his group finished and entered the grill, others had shown up to celebrate.

"I said, 'Geez, Paul, is there anyone you don't know?'" Driskill laughs.

Driskill received a kidney transplant 12 years ago, but a degenerative ankle condition grew progressively worse in recent years. He was in constant pain, and the bone deteriorated so much his right leg was three inches shorter than his left.

He opted for amputation and hasn't had a moment's regret. He wakes up pain-free, and the golf course is a more level playing field again.

"It's tough to play golf when you're taking the club back and you're already going downhill," says Driskill, a right-handed player. "I'm a lot more steady over the ball. Not to say I'd wish this on anybody, but thank God there's this technology."

He's on his third prosthetic, which he received after breaking his femur in January.

The maladies of war have hastened prosthetic advancement, says Driskill. His has a remote-controlled pump that tightens and loosens joints, the former coming in handy when golfing, for instance, and the latter a luxury when driving. It has a battery pack he recharges each night.

As soon as something new hits the market, Driskill hears from his provider.

"He wants to try it on me because so many of his patients are sedentary," says Driskill. "He likes to hear all my stories about golf. He likes to hear about someone using it to enjoy life.

"I'm the $5 million man running around out there."

Several of Driskill's stories came out of the Southern Oregon Golf Championships early this month. He played for the first time since the kidney transplant, winning his first two senior matches — he was 4 up through four holes in each — before falling victim in his third match to putting woes.

His handicap has been between 18 and 22 for years, fluctuating slightly depending on his health. He shot an 87 Sunday, which is a normal round of late.

Then again, it was anything but normal.

"It's quite an experience," Driskill says of making an ace. "You don't really believe it until you walk up and see the ball in the hole. That was a lot of fun yesterday."

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

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