ALS has taken my husband’s ability to play golf, but not his passion for it

He's still passing on the game to our son and, once again, to me

Kristin Neva avatar

by Kristin Neva |

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About 19 years ago, my newlywed husband, Todd, bought me golf clubs. He loved the sport and thought it’d be a fun way to spend time together. I was open to the idea, even though I used to be one of those kids who dreaded gym class. I’ve never been good at sports, but I gave golf a try.

We went to a driving range, and although I have only vague memories of it, Todd tells me we golfed a par 3 course and I was able to move the ball along well enough. But after our babies came along, I didn’t head out with Todd anymore.

Todd golfed his last round about 13 years ago, the summer he was diagnosed with ALS.

He wanted to pass on his love of golf to our son, though, and for several summers we’ve had him take group lessons. He’s graduated through a few sets of increasingly longer clubs, and now that he’s nearly 14 years old, he’s using Todd’s old set.

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Sometimes I talk with my kids about the ways life would’ve been different had Dad not gotten ALS. For one, Todd would’ve spent time on the golf course with them.

This year our son is old enough for the teen golf league, and I signed him up for a few private lessons before the league starts. On the day of his first lesson, I drove him to the course.

“Why don’t you take lessons, too, Mom?” he said. “Then you could golf with me.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” I said, “but you’ve seen me at the driving range.”

“Yeah,” he said, “but you haven’t had lessons.”

When I gave golf a try, I did it to spend time with my husband. Since I like spending time with my son, maybe I could try again.

When we got to the clubhouse, I mentioned the idea of me taking lessons to the golf instructor.

“I could give both of you lessons at the same time,” he said.

And so we did. Two lessons down. One to go. It’s been fun.

There’s so much I have to think about when swinging a club: Set my grip. Weight on left foot. Arms in a V. Knees bent. Butt out. Point left shoulder toward the ball as I swing the club back. Left arm straight. Swing, remembering to stay bent. But don’t overthink it.

I’m not ready for the course yet, but my swing is improving and my drives go farther than they did a couple weeks ago.

Last night, we went to the range, and I used my phone to take videos of my son’s swing. When we got home, Todd’s watched the videos on his computer. He slowed one down and pointed out a couple of things he noticed. He and our son have fun talking golf.

ALS may have stopped Todd from playing the game, but it hasn’t taken his love for the sport and the joy he gets from passing his passion for it on to his son.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Janet Neckyfarow avatar

Janet Neckyfarow

I'm still "playing" golf. With bulbar ALS most of my issues are with speaking, swallowing, etc. But my left hand and arm have become progressively weaker and are pretty useless at this point. I was never very good, but it's nice for both my husband/caregiver and me to do something together that he loves and we enjoy doing together. We only play nine holes and I play completely one-handed. I usually manage to hit the ball and have it go forward. But what joy when it finally goes up in the air!

Kristin Neva avatar

Kristin Neva

I have that same feeling when I go with my son to the driving range and I make good contact with a ball. Glad you are still able to get out and golf!

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