One-Armed Golfer Takes a New Swing at Life

By Robert Rodriguez
|  Thursday, Aug 18, 2011  |  Updated 5:14 PM CDT
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One-Armed Golfer Takes a New Swing at Life

Dobreff drives off the tee with one-arm.

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Alexander Dobreff loves golf.

In fact, he played at the Golf Channel's Amateur Tour event at Prarie Isle Golf Club on Aug. 13 in Prairie Grove and shot an 88, 16 over

Surely that's not the type of score you'd expect from touring amateur, but then again, Dobreff , 23,golfs with just one arm after an accident robbed him of a promising future.

"One day, I want to have a tour for disabled golfers," he said ahead of the two handed event -- his first since the accident. "There are millions of people out there who are disabled from birth or after they were in Iraq who would like the chance to play."

Dobreff shot a respectable three over par on the front nine, but struggled with the back nine following a brief 40-minute rain delay, which he says disrupted his "right brain harmony."

"I don't play 7,000 yards (total distance of golf course) very often," said Dobreff following the event. "All around, I had a great experience. I enjoyed finishing every putt"

Tournament and Prairie Isle Golf Club Manager John Downey said he had to receive special clearance from the Golf Channel in Orlando to allow Dobreff to play in the event and that he paired the 23-year-old with a man who specializes in prosthetics.

Dobreff lost the use of his arm on July 2, 2009. The promising young golfer from Northville High School in Michigan, was involved in a car accident that led to permanent damage of his left arm. A part of Dobreff's vehicle went through the appendage and doctors were forced to operate immediately inserting three titanium plates and 17 screws in the limb.

The reconstruction left Dobreff with an intact arm,  but some of the worst news of his life. Doctors told the aspiring professional that he would never play golf again.
 
Dobreff spent days in his apartment across from Chicago's Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course following his return from the hospital feeling down. 

"After the accident, there wasn't anything I could do," said Dobreff.  "There was no true calling or skill for me anymore.

Then a friend suggested he get back to the driving range and try a one-handed swing.

"It was four or five in the morning, when my friend said I could still use one of my hands to golf. We were out on the range by 7 a.m," said Dobreff.

Dobreff  began to study the "Yogi" golf swing technique, a method developed by the enigmatic, early 20th century golf legend, Count Yogi.

He says the Yogi technique has elevated his golf game to a level where it has never been before.

"Once I started allowing my body to do its own thing, though, golf is more fun to me than it's ever been in my whole life. It gives me a certain type of confidence that I never had before. Technique has made it so much more."

Alexander has searched for sponsors to help him train in California with Count Yogi's apparent heir, Timothy Nicholls. Nicholls claims to be the only man qualified to teach the Count Yogi method, having received years of instruction from Count Yogi himself, and now teaches private lessons based on Yogi's system.

Dobreff has also put together a business plan and proposal to accumulate a 3-year sponsorship to play as a professional in Canada.

He will compete in the 11th Annual North American 1-Arm Golfer Association Championship in New Mexico from Sept. 27-30, after securing a sponsorship from Prilosec for the event.

He joined the Golf Channel's event as an honorary guest of the tour and has had his tour and green fees waived by the Golf Channel and the Prairie Isle Golf Club.

Dobreff says he now can often score in the 70s using only one arm, and he attributes his progress to God.

"I looked for a reason why I survived," says Dobreff.  "I kind of found out that God has a plan for me. There was no reason for me to worry about what my life is going to be full of or what it's not going to be full of." 

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