Golf Pro Goes from Drunk Driving to Championing Life
At age 18, Larry Alford was a top-ranked golfer playing with pros like Tiger Woods. He dreamed of pursuing championships and trophies, but an automobile accident shattered that dream, took his left arm, and nearly cost him his life.
"I made a bad choice. I skipped golf practice that Friday afternoon, went on to drink, party with some friends. Next thing you know I'm in a Corvette. I'm drunk going over 100 mph on I-45 heading southbound and woke up a couple of months later," Alford told CBN News.
The vehicle flipped over seven times. Alford was not wearing a seatbelt. He was thrown from the vehicle and landed on a five-foot patch of median grass along the highway.
"I had brain damage. My head had swollen up three times the size of a basketball," he said.
Injuries and Healing
Alford spent three months in the hospital, his heartbeat flatlined several times and he went through more than 50 surgeries.
He still carries internal injuries, but to the human eye, it looks as if his only injury was losing his left arm.
Through the physical pain of recovery, Alford also struggled with questioning God on why this had to happen to him.
"I was one of the top 15 golfers in the world. I had just taken Tiger Woods to a playoff in California, then I started winning tournaments and received golf scholarships. I never stuck with Christ in my walk through high school and college," Alford said.
Seeking self worth after losing his arm, Alford began to drink heavily and fill his emptiness with attention from women and alcohol.
"When you lose an arm it's a social problem, but it's also an emotional, mindful, spiritual problem. I masked how I was handling the situation," Alford explained. "What better way to do it than go get drunk, go hang out with some women? In reality its tough waking up with every morning with one arm."
With things of the world leaving Alford unfulfilled, he began to turn to his faith.
One Arm Bandit
Alford began to pray about getting back on the golf course and found an answer with Muilenburg Prosthetics.
Ted Muilenberg, owner of Muilenburg Prosthetics, designed a unique one-of-a-kind arm piece, using his own hand.
"I gripped a golf club and did an impression of my hand holding the golf club. Then I filled the hand and made it really strong and attached the child-size knee to where it would flex and attach the rotator," Muilenburg stated.
Using a special silicon sleeve, Alford puts on the arm piece and secures it with a Velcro band. The design creates a perfect grip.
After sliding in the club, the wrist joint rotates by using a baby's knee prosthesis turned upside down.
Alford currently shares his story and message of faith by traveling to different golf tournaments. By raising money for different charities through challenging other golfers on the course, Alford has earned himself the nickname "The One Arm Bandit."
"Is the pain in my brain and in my face every day and in my shoulder, into my hand and body? Yes, but everybody suffers," Alford said. "I feel I have been saved because all those people who have been in accidents and lost a limb, God has put me in their life to encourage them that they can go on in life."
To learn more about Larry Alford, visit www.thebandit.net.