GOLF: Former Geneva resident David Windsor continues to make a difference with adaptive golf | Sports
For former Geneva resident David Windsor, the main goal throughout his life has been to help others improve at the game of golf, and adaptive golf has been his avenue to helping many with their game.
Adaptive golf intends to make playing golf a reality for the physically disabled.
Windsor, 51, is now one of the leading experts in adaptive golf and may be featured on the Golf Channel’s pregame show prior to the 3M Open this Saturday. And, this past week on July 18-20, the famous Pinehurst Golf Course hosted the inaugural US Adaptive Open where several of Windsor’s golfers competed.
It was the climax of his entire golf career that began in Geneva in the late 1980s.
Windsor graduated from Geneva High School in 1989 and was on the golf team for all of his four years. His love of the game of golf didn’t start from the get-go. He was more into fishing and three-wheeled motorcycles before he even picked up a golf club.
Windsor was 14 years old when he made his first visit to Seneca Lake Country Club.
“I used to just run around up there and hunt for golf balls (and) have a good time,” Windsor said about his first appearances at Seneca Lake CC.
A neighbor of his lent him some clubs and his mom and dad took him to the clubhouse. A day was all it took for him to secure a junior golf membership.
Windsor remembers the check that was written out by his mom was exactly $187, as it is “engraved in his brain” because that is when his journey began.
When he and his older sister decided to hand in the check to Seneca Lake CC, Paul DeRidder, the assistant professional at the time, slammed his hand on the counter and asked David, “You want a job?”
Paul’s brother Mark was the head professional at the time but it was Paul who guided Windsor to where he is today.
“Paul was just one of the greatest ambassadors of the game,” Windsor said. “He not only gave me a job but he also changed my game, I was just a regular ‘Joe Slicer’ until he gave me one lesson on how to draw the ball.”
Seneca Lake CC did not have a driving range so Windsor and DeRidder would drop a shag bag at the front of the tee box on the first hole and hit shots while making adjustments.
After his time at Geneva, he played at Monroe Community College for two years.
He wanted to stay in the field of teaching golf but at the time there were only three schools in the entire country that offered a golf management degree. Mississippi State was one of them, so that’s where he went.
Part of the requirements at Miss. St. was that he would have to complete an 18-month co-op with different golf clubs. It allowed him to gain experience with clubs in Rochester, Arizona, West Palm Beach and Nashville.
After graduating with a degree in golf management, things came full circle when he was hired as the head professional at Seneca Lake CC in 1995, a decade after he first started working there.
It wasn’t too long after that when he made the decision that he didn’t want to sit around during the off-season in the northern winters.
Windsor packed up shop and moved down to Florida full-time where he worked at a resort for three years while finishing up his class A membership with the PGA at a Golf Digest school.
In 1999 he became the head professional at a golf course in Sarasota, Fla.
That’s where and when his career changed forever.
On one seemingly typical day at the club, he noticed a physical therapist come in to help with some golfers who were looking to overcome their disabilities.
Windsor quickly offered to help.
“It didn’t take long to know that there is more going on than just improving their golf game,” he said.
The early 2000s was a tough time for all veterans during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and golf was a way for many of them to cope.
“It took a war to make people aware and recognize the power that golf carries in terms of the inheritable positive healing components and the rehabilitative aspects that golf brings. It tests and enhances mind, body, and soul,” he added.
Tampa was home to one of the four major Polytrauma Veteran’s Assistance hospitals. One visit from the hospital’s director of rehabilitation was all it took for Windsor to help begin a weekly adaptive golf program at his club.
On Sept. 28, 2007, Windsor’s club launched a weekly veterans program which remains the longest running veteran’s adaptive golf program in the country. Today, there are more than 100 VA hospitals offering adaptive golf programs across the country.
“Just saying, ‘thank you,’ (to veterans) is never enough, the game of golf has been the ultimate gratitude that the golf community can give.” Windsor said.
Windsor, who now lives in Atlanta, is a clinic developer for the Georgia State Golf Association which helps him connect with other golf pros to keep their programs afloat.
This past week at Pinehurst Golf Course, the inaugural US Adaptive Open was the culmination of Windsor’s entire golf career.
“It fills your heart right up,” Windsor said. “To see (veterans) overcome that kind of adversity … we talk out there, ‘Really? You’re putting pressure on yourself on the golf course after everything you have survived?’”
It was a true honor for him to see the adaptive golfers play at the highest level. Some even sported positive handicaps in a field that expands over eight divisions from ages 15 to 80. The next goal for Windsor? He hopes for many of his golfers to participate in the 2026 Paralympic games.
“Helping people not just play better but it helps them live better,” he about what is his favorite thing about teaching golf. “People live better when they’re in this game of golf.”
If Windsor gets some airtime on the Golf Channel this Saturday at 12 pm during Golf Central Pregame before the third round of the 3M Open, it will not be the first time he has been on television, but he admits it would be cool to show off what he does best with help improving someone’s golf game.
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