Loss of two limbs can't slow down Florida golfer - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Loss of two limbs can't slow down Florida golfer

Posted: Updated:
Graper hits the links a couple times a week. Graper hits the links a couple times a week.
ORMOND BEACH, Fl. - John Graper is the typical golfer.

His handicap is a very modest 25, which indicates he shoots under 100 on a good day, over on a not-so-good day.

Sign up for free breaking news and headline email alerts http://8.wfla.com/18DCEqk

The typical part: "I'll be honest, with my game, I should be somewhere between a 14 and 16 handicap," he says. "I know how I can hit the ball, but the way I look at it, I just make too many mistakes out there. But 14 to 16, that's where I feel I should be."

What's not typical: Graper's most obvious handicap hits you when he pulls his clubs from the trunk and starts toward the pro shop at Riviera Country Club. He has no left arm. Upon closer inspection, you notice that his left leg is store-bought.

A 1971 motorcycle accident cost him two limbs, but it didn't disable him. Several days a week, the 66-year-old leaves his Palm Coast home, gets on U.S. 1 and heads south, through Ormond Beach to Riviera, where he's a longtime member.

"I love the game," says Graper, who loves it in a way all serious golfers love the game, which means he also hates it on occasion.

"He can get really angry when he messes up. Some people can't understand that, but I think it's great," says Tyler Smith, an assistant pro at Riviera who's often paired with Graper at the course's weekly pro-ams on Friday mornings. "He chucked his putter off the 15th green the other day, then stood there a minute and said, 'great, now I gotta go get the damned thing.' We all laughed - even him."

More "typical golfer" from Graper: "I'll still say a few four-letter words here and there, but I'm trying NOT to throw my club anymore."

Then, of course, he explains himself in a manner recognizable to all who have spent time in a club grill.

"I know what I should be doing and what I should be scoring," he says. "If I hit a bad shot because I lift my head up, that shouldn't be happening ... but I'm learning to control it a little better."

Graper had never played much golf before his accident - "I'd go out to the range and bang balls now and then." But once he found a way to hit the ball consistently, and realized he was physically capable, he made it the hobby of a lifetime.

It didn't take long to learn that it's best if he hits the ball "back-handed" with his right arm, standing on the side of the ball where a lefty would stand. He putts from the right-handed side, however.

His drives are generally very accurate and can sneak out to about 180 yards. His other distances range from about 165 yards with the 3-wood to about 110 with a 7-iron, very typical of senior players at his handicap level.

He says his best golf came several years ago when he was a member at River Bend in Ormond Beach - "I got into the 70s a couple of times there from the senior tees" - but now his goal is to get back into the 80s with some regularity.

So he continues to play every chance he gets, though he doesn't spend as much time on the practice range as he once did.

"I love the game; I really do," he says.

Well, except for those times he hates it. But again, like all serious golfers, by day's end he'll find himself in the backyard of his home, working on the latest "fix" he just stumbled upon.

"I work on my swing at the house all the time," he says. "I just go in my backyard and swing the club, trying to keep the same swing plane. You have to keep that plane.

"You and I swing the club the same way. The only difference between me and you is that I swing it with one arm."

Graper resigned himself long ago to the fact that the game is never mastered. One arm or two, 25 handicap or 15, golf's give and take is an equal-opportunity employer and annoyer.

"Really, my only problem is distance," he says. "I can't hit the ball far enough to play a lot of the longer courses. But I can put a draw on it if I have to. I can put a fade on it if I have to."

Then he chuckles and says, "I can also put it in the water."

  • Don't Miss ItMore>>

  • Maroon 5 announces Tampa show

    Maroon 5 announces Tampa show

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:58 PM EDT2014-09-02 18:58:11 GMT
    Photo courtesy Facebook/Maroon 5Photo courtesy Facebook/Maroon 5
    Multi platinum-selling and Grammy Award-winning rock band, Maroon 5, revealed details today for The Maroon 5 World Tour 2015 in support of the band's fifth studio album, V.
    Multi platinum-selling and Grammy Award-winning rock band, Maroon 5, revealed details today for The Maroon 5 World Tour 2015 in support of the band's fifth studio album, V.
  • Where's 'Katharine' been?

    Where's 'Katharine' been?

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:35 PM EDT2014-09-02 16:35:30 GMT
    Photo: OCEARCH FacebookPhoto: OCEARCH Facebook
    Katharine, the well-known great white shark tracked by OCEARCH, has been spending a good amount of time outside the Carolinas
    Katharine, the well-known great white shark tracked by OCEARCH, has been spending a good amount of time outside the Carolinas
  • Texas brewery makes 99-pack of beer

    Texas brewery makes 99-pack of beer

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:29 PM EDT2014-09-01 21:29:35 GMT
    Everything is bigger in Texas, including the packs of beer.
    Everything is bigger in Texas, including the packs of beer.
  • Most Viewed Stories on WFLA.com

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Jones County Woman Found Dead In Woods

    Jones County Woman Found Dead In Woods

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:08:17 GMT
    Photo Courtesy Of Jones County Sheriff's DepartmentPhoto Courtesy Of Jones County Sheriff's Department
    JONES CO., Miss - After about 4 hours of searching Jones County volunteers found the body of 31-year-old Ashley Clark about 600 feet away from her parents' home. According to officials, Clark went missing after wandering off around 10 a.m. Sunday. Family members told Lt.. David Ward of the Jones County Sheriff's Department that she could have been under the influence, "she said she might have been under the influence of some type of unknown substance."Officials say after waiting overnight for...
    JONES CO., Miss - After about 4 hours of searching Jones County volunteers found the body of 31-year-old Ashley Clark about 600 feet away from her parents' home. According to officials, Clark went missing after wandering off around 10 a.m. Sunday. Family members told Lt.. David Ward of the Jones County Sheriff's Department that she could have been under the influence, "she said she might have been under the influence of some type of unknown substance."Officials say after waiting overnight for...
  • 16-year-old girl stabs another 65 times after nude photos posted on Facebook

    16-year-old girl stabs another 65 times after nude photos posted on Facebook

    Wednesday, April 2 2014 3:29 PM EDT2014-04-02 19:29:36 GMT
    A 16-year-old girl is accused of fatally stabbing her teen ‘best friend' in an attack spurred by nude photos of the pair together posted on social media, according to several media sources.  Anel Baez,
    A 16-year-old girl is accused of fatally stabbing her teen ‘best friend' in an attack spurred by nude photos of the pair together posted on social media, according to several media sources.  Anel Baez,
  • Col. Holden, first black to lead NC Patrol, dies

    Col. Holden, first black to lead NC Patrol, dies

    Friday, August 22 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-08-22 22:07:34 GMT
    Col. Richard Holden of Cary, the first African-American to lead the North Carolina Highway Patrol, died Thursday.
    Col. Richard Holden of Cary, the first African-American to lead the North Carolina Highway Patrol, died Thursday.
Powered by WorldNow

5912 Hwy. 49, Ste. A
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Telephone: 601.545.2077
Fax: 601.545.3589
Email: newsroom@whlt.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.