- April 7, 2016
- Lyons P&O
I walked into the clubhouse at Whispering Pines Golf course and asked to see Mr. Fye. Shortly they were on the radio and I over hear the woman say “Fye there is someone here to see you.” I heard a voice say “I am over washing carts at the drop off can you send her over.” This began my conversation with Mr. Jim Fye.
If you were to see Mr. Fye on any given day wearing pants you would not notice anything different about him at all. In fact, after talking with him he would prefer you don’t see him as different or handicapped whatsoever. He told me “I can do anything you can do, I just have to do it differently and it takes a little longer.” Mr. Fye is a below the knee amputee who happens to proudly maintain a 9.6 handicap in golf. The day I spoke with him he had been working at the course since 6:30 a.m. it was now 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon. He was still going strong.
Mr. Fye had his leg removed below the knee in November 1999 as a result of a difficult surgery that went wrong. He went to sleep expecting a 2 hour procedure and 13 hours later his life hung in the balance. Three days after surgery, as infection set into his leg there was no other choice but to remove it to save his life and forever alter his existence. He was a factory worker in Indiana, a husband to Roberta “Dee-Dee” and father to Anna. Losing his leg was not part of the plan but he was determined to persevere and play golf again.
After a long winter and some set backs Jim amazingly picked up his clubs in April 2000. He was on a crude temporary prosthesis but he knew he had to try. With his friends around him and his wife encouraging him he began the slow process learning what being an amputee would mean to his golf game and to his life. His golf handicap lingered around 23 at that time. A year later he worked out most of the hard spots, and knew golf was his sanity and his motivation.
In 2001 Mr. Fye and his wife, Dee-Dee moved to Myrtle Beach to retire and to pursue his passion, golf. In 2007 Mr. Fye was fortunate to find Alexander Lyons, C.P.O., clinician and owner of Lyons Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Alex designs and custom builds prosthetics and was thrilled to take Jim’s case. Jim had specific ideas in mind when he went to Lyons and was determined to improve his quality of life and golf game. Mr. Fye stated “Alex is wonderful, he listened and collaborated with me and I now have a foot that adjusts and moves on it’s own, it has made all the difference in my game and in my life.”
As my time with him was coming to a close I asked him “What is the hardest thing about your life now considering everything you have been through?” He stated “Deciding where to play golf today”, with a broad endearing grin and easy chuckle. “Has any good come from this ordeal?” “It’s been good to be able to encourage and inspire people with my story, I don’t take one moment for granted. My wife is my inspiration and golf is my triumph.”
We walked together to the first hole at Whispering Pines and I watched and photographed him golfing. First shot off the tee, 200 yards to the middle of the fairway. Second shot, 5 iron to the green landing the ball 10 feet from the hole.
Two putts to par the hole. I don’t know many golfers with two legs that can so effortlessly par any hole. Mr. Fye truly is an inspiration. It was remarkable to witness the design and work of Alex Lyons at Lyons Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Mr. Fye has experienced several very serious health problems from a heart attack to cancer, as well as the loss of his leg. When asked how this has changed him as a person he simply stated “I am thankful for every moment, I don’t plan months from now I live for today, I enjoy each moment like it may be my last.” Words to live by.
Image and Story by Chris Koppel ckphotography