Solo riding cart opens up the links to disabled golfers at Eagle Ranch Golf Course | VailDaily.com

Solo riding cart opens up the links to disabled golfers at Eagle Ranch Golf Course

EAGLE — Denis Murray loves golf.

He carries a 12 handicap, and he's a regular player at the Aspen Golf Club.

What differentiates him from dozens of other players is his methodology. Nearly two decades ago, Murray was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a skiing accident. For the past 17 years, he has used a solo golf cart to access the links. Murray said a number of years ago, the R.H. Crossland Foundation donated solo carts to four courses in the Roaring Fork Valley, opening up golf to players with disabilities or injuries.

"It's a great way to get outside," Murray said. "It's fantastic to be out there golfing."

And now, through a series of circumstances, Murray and the staff at Eagle Ranch Golf Club hope to spread a bit of that joy around.

Jody Hern Tournament

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In his work at the city of Aspen as plans examination manager, Murray crossed paths with Shawn Morrison, of Eagle. During the course of their acquaintance, the two men found out they both shared a love for golf. Every year, Morrison organizes the Jody Hern Golf Tournament at Eagle Ranch, so he invited Murray to play.

"For the past six years, I have been transporting his golf cart from Aspen to Eagle so he could play," Morrison said. "Then the golf course he plays at got a new solo riding golf cart and they were just going to throw out the old cart they had. Denis talked them into donating the cart to Eagle Ranch."

Jeff Boyer, director of golf at Eagle Ranch Golf Club, was up for the idea of opening up the sport to people who have previously been denied the opportunity to play.

"We haven't really promoted having a solo cart yet because we need to do some repairs. Our intention is to get it all fixed up," Boyer said.

Boyer explained that the solo rider cart features a seat equipped with a lap belt that swivels to the side. When a player gets to his or her ball, the seat swings out and a hydraulic system raises the player forward and upward so he or she can swing a club. Boyer was impressed by the level of independence a cart provides to a player.

"Denis can take care of himself out on the course. It's pretty amazing," Boyer said.

Out on the course means more than just fairways and tee boxes. Solo carts are allowed on greens because they are equipped with special tires that are designed not to damage turf. Murray noted the tires on a solo cart actually exert less pressure than a human walking across a green.

Open for play

"Shawn and Jeff are great people and to have that cart available for me, even though I have a cart of my own," Murray said.

He hopes once they hear about the Eagle Ranch solo cart, more people who thought they could no longer enjoy a round of golf find their way out on the links.

"These carts need to be used, that's the key," Murray said, noting a cart left idle will eventually fall into disrepair.

He urged disabled golfers, golfers recovering from surgery or older golfers to try out the cart before they give up the game.

"It takes a little bit of practice, but once you do, it's the same joy of playing golf," Murray said.