Standing on the driving range at Conquistador Golf Course and consistently driving balls toward flags 200 yards in front of him, Jeremy Barton looks no different than an average everyday golfer. But a closer look at the muscular 29-year-old reveals one key difference.
He is missing his left arm.
Born and raised in the Cortez area and a 2008 graduate of Montezuma-Cortez High School, Barton walked onto Conquistador Golf Course for the first time about two years ago after a friend encouraged him to give the sport a try.
Although Barton initially questioned whether his foray onto the fairways would result in an enjoyable experience given that he had never attempted a swing or even picked up a golf club. But he decided to give it a go.
“I had never swung a baseball bat or a golf club or anything,” Barton said. “I just wanted to give (golf) a try, and I fell in love it.”
During his early days on the course, Barton learned to swing like a traditional right-handed golfer with his left foot in front of his right foot as he stood over the ball. Although keeping his club face square upon impact was initially difficult, Barton soon found his form.
“On my drives and my woods and my iron shots, I have to turn the face (of the club) in a little bit (on my backswing) so when I come through (the ball), I will be square,” Barton said. “If I start square on my backswing, (the club head) will fly open.”
Barton consistently drives the ball 190 yards and has occasionally reached 200 yards with the force that he generates from his powerful right arm and back.
He recently began practicing a swing similar to that of a traditional left-hander, standing over the ball with his right foot in front of left foot and swinging a left-handed club.
“It just takes a lot of time and practice on the range,” said Barton, who generally golfs four times per week. “A while back, I went to left handed clubs because I can swing through (the ball) better.”
Although Barton does not play 18 holes on a regular basis, his career-best score of 117 puts him ahead of the area’s recreational golfers. .
“Some people might have problems because I have one arm, but you can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it,” Barton said.
“I would also like to eventually go to Arizona and work at a golf shop and teach people with my disabilities. I think that I can teach better than I can play.”
Currently employed at City Market as a frozen-food clerk, Barton said that he would like to make contact with other one-armed golfers in order to exchange strategies and tips.
In the meantime, Barton plans to continue swinging his Nike in hopes of improving his own skills and inspiring others with similar disabilities.
“You can’t just sit in your house and do nothing and cry about it,” said Barton. “You’ve got to have patience, and you just have to try. I never liked (golfing) when I had two arms, and it’s relaxing now. It’s important to never give up.”