There is plenty of evidence that golf can help restore mental health, but one player has declared that “in many ways golf saved my life.”
Dylan Baines was just 22 when, in 2017, he was involved in a road accident that left him with a broken neck and paralysed from the neck down. In an interview with the BBC (opens in new tab), the Welshman explained how he fought back from the injury to not only walk again but win a tournament.
He said: “Golf came to me at exactly the right time. About two years after my accident, I was really struggling with my mental health. I couldn’t move anything. One of the first things I asked the surgeon was ‘will I ever walk again?’. He just said no, basically. It’s like your world’s ending to be honest. I had just turned 22 – I was absolutely devastated. I understand they have got to tell you as it is. But I don’t think ever I truly believed him. Luckily my body agreed with me.”
Baines described the “first glimmer of hope” as he began to recover from his devastating injury. He said: “My big toe on my right leg was the first thing I could move. I just went crazy. Slowly, more and more started to come back on my right side. Then my left side, slowly. Not as much has come back [on the left], unfortunately, but here I am walking round, and I can’t believe it, to be honest.”
Not surprisingly, trips to the physio have been a key part of Baines’ rehabilitation. At one of those sessions, he saw a poster featuring a leg amputee Mike Jones – a winner of EDGA (European Disabled Golf Association) tournaments. That inspired Baines, a keen sportsman before the accident, to head down a similar route. He said: “My physio put us in contact. Mike took me then to France, to my first event, and I have loved it ever since.”
He made an immediate impact at the tournament, finishing fourth playing in the Stableford scoring category before following that up with a runner-up position at July’s Irish Open. However, that was just the start. With a handicap down to 17.1 he became eligible for the net score division of last November’s Algarve Open in Portugal, which he won.
But how does Baines play while paralysed down the left-hand side? According to Wales Golf’s championship manager Christian Askins, he has a modified way of playing. Askins told the BBC: “He is able to play golf under the modified rules of golf, which mean he can anchor the club in his left side and hold it with his right arm.”
The results have…