Shell Point Golf Club is helping local residents Bob and Jacob Miller prepare for the Special Olympics golf division.
The father and son team will participate in the 2011 Special Olympics, their fourth year together. This will actually mark Jacob’s fifth year of participating, because he entered into the skills portion of the golf division in 2007.
Jacob has autism, and this is the first year that the Miller’s approached the Shell Point Golf Club about using the facility to prepare for the Special Olympics. To qualify for the event, they have to submit eight score cards to the Special Olympics committee prior to the regional competition to be considered as participants.
By working with Michael Mongoven, director of golf for Shell Point Golf Club, the Millers were able to make arrangements to practice on the course weekly, and Jacob even signed up to participate in the summer golf camp that was offered at the course in June.
“Shell Point Golf Club, and Mike Mongoven, have been so flexible and accommodating for us,” said Bob Miller. “Their willingness to work with us and our schedules has given us the chance to practice for the competition more often than we would have anywhere else. We are close to home and the staff at their golf course is wonderful to work with.”
When asked what his favorite part of playing golf is, Jacob says putting is the most fun, but that he really enjoys driving now after learning more about how to control it in the summer golf camp.
The Millers will head to Naples for the regional competition on Aug. 6, and if they pass through that round, will then plan to participate in the state level. The state tournament always takes place in Orlando, and will be held in September. Jacob has already made it to the State level three times before, once in 2007 for his skills and in 2008 and 2010 as a team with his father.
The Lee County Special Olympics is a program that has been around for more than 30 years, and the golf program was started 11 years ago. Local teams in the golf program have made it all the way to the nationals, and have held the national champion title for the Special Olympics golf category. The Special Olympics program trains athletes with intellectual disabilities in various sports, and they do not modify the rules of the game.
This year, Lee County has six athletes participating in the golf category of the Special Olympics. Most compete as teams, however this year they do have two athletes that are playing as singles, and their previous partners are now their caddies. The local program has over 460 athletes that are regularly participating in the Special Olympics, and serves over 2,000 in the local school system.
In addition, their office staff consists of two full time staff members, and many dedicated volunteers. They are very grateful for Shell Point Golf Club’s work with the local athletes on their skills and practice for the event. They credit the management and staff at the course for helping the Millers prepare by working with their schedules and being extremely accommodating.
The Shell Point Golf Club is an 18-hole championship golf course that opened in 2000. The course offers a grass driving range and practice green, lessons, Shell Point Golf School, a fully-stocked pro shop and snack bar, and all the course golf carts are equipped with GPS monitors. The course is open to the public, and is located at the entrance to Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers, two miles before the Sanibel Island Causeway.
For more information, or to schedule a tee time, call 239-433-9790 or log on to www.shellpointgolf.com.
The Millers practice getting out of a sand trap at Shell Point Golf Club.