DISABILITIES WEEK 93
By Daniel J. Vance
Bill Hilsheimer of Nokomis, Florida, was on the "Today Show" April 1 and mentioned on Paul Harvey, CNN and in British and Canadian newspapers, and all because he golfed three holes in one during a six-month period.
His feat was especially extraordinary considering he's 68 and has a disability. Hilsheimer lost most of his right hand including parts of his palm as a 9-year-old boy in 1945 while trying to scramble out from under a moving coal train. Doctors successfully reattached his middle finger and pinky and gave him half a thumb, a stub.
"I can hit a ball off the tee 220 yards, though not consistently," Hilsheimer said recently over the telephone. "I swing with only my left hand yet stand over the ball like I'm right-handed. Another guy I know plays (missing his right hand) but he swings like a lefthander."
In March 2000, "Golf Digest" magazine determined the odds of acing a hole any given round as 5,000 to 1.
Hilsheimer said, "My 94-year-old father-in-law and I play executive courses. He was with me when I hit my first ace. All these years he'd never had one or been playing with anyone that had one."
The first was a 105-yarder at Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Lancaster, Ohio; the second a 157-yarder at Bird Bay Executive Golf Course in Venice, Florida.; and the third this February a 157-yarder at Gulf Gate Golf Course in Sarasota, Florida.
Outside of golf, Hilsheimer worked 20 years as a photo engraver at the Akron Beacon-Journal and was an all-state high school linebacker. Now he spends seven months a year in Florida and the rest working as a starter at Ohio University Golf Course in Athens, Ohio.
His success with his disability has influenced his nephew, who also acquired a disability when young. "He was thrown out the back of a car in an accident and his arm remained inside," said Hilsheimer. "He has no shoulder joint. Now he attends law school. You can still do an awful lot with one arm. There are a lot worse things than losing an arm or hand."
To anyone recently losing a limb, he said, "Don't let it bother you. Go ahead with life. You can do anything your mindset will allow you to. As for me, I don't know anything bad that has come out of [my injury]."