Some thoughts on disabled minigolf

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Word of the week: Shlubs

On The 18th and 19th of May the US Prominigolf Association’s U.S. Open Championship was held in Hendersonville, North Carolina. One professional player stood out in particular, a man by the name of Niko Manou. What is different about him is that he does not use a putter. Niko has a debilitating condition that causes his wrists to dislocate very easily and without warning, which is painful and makes using a putter almost impossible. Refusing to be ‘disabled’, he has overcome this by designing special attachments to his shoes that present a putter-like face to the ball – and he putts with his feet.

disabled minigolf platyer invents shlubs
Shlubs

He calls them shlubs, a portmanteau of shoes and clubs. And they are not just for himself – he makes them for other minigolfers and sells them. Here’s the shlubs Facebook page. Niko also plays big golf with shlubs and can drive a ball quite a way. He calls this sport shloffing.

Other pro players accept Niko and respect him for his resilience and creativity, and for the simple fact that he is a nice guy. Here’s a video of Niko talking about shlubs, shloffing and what makes him happy.

The sporting world is full of examples of people who play despite apparently overwhelming odds. Though his case is completely different, Niko reminds us of another disabled American by the name of Matt Stutzman, who has risen to the top of the sport of archery despite one tiny problem – he was born without arms. Want to see how he overcomes that one? Here’s a video about Matt, the amazing Armless Archer, who shoots as well as his able-bodied peers.

While we’re on the subject, it might be worth mentioning that Putterfingers minigolf courses are wheelchair-friendly. Because the putting surface is so low, wheelchair access is easy, and people using wheelchairs can enjoy a game if they are otherwise able-bodied. The only obstacles on Putterfingers courses are the ones they have to get the ball over!

Disabled minigolf wheelchair access
Wheelchair users can just roll up to the tee, and onto the course as well

There are special putters out there for wheelchair minigolfers. The shaft hinges just before the head to enable a good putting angle from a seated position. Unfortunately we are unable to source them at the moment, but we’re trying to get a supply line to help make our courses even more inclusive.

Putterfingers website

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