Originally created 09/17/06

Bionic golf tournament has grown in popularity



Scores of bionic duffers will test their skills at Woodside Plantation Country Club at the 14th annual Bionic Golf Invitational in October.

Organizers of the event, which has had almost 100 golfers in past years, are looking for more participants.

"It's a fun time. It's certainly for a worthwhile cause," said Ken Hofstetter, of Aiken, who will play in the tournament for the sixth time.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Hitchcock Healthcare and help provide an allied health scholarship at Aiken Technical College.

To take part in the tournament, golfers must meet one of three criteria: They must have at least one surgical joint replacement, spine instrumentation or a prosthesis.

"It's amazing what people can do when they're incapacitated," said Bunny Cason, a McCormick, S.C., resident who has played in the tournament 12 times.

The tournament was started in 1993 by two avid golfers who had undergone total joint replacements. Sixteen golfers teed off for the first event at Houndslake Country Club, where the tournament has been held 11 times.

In recent years, the tournament has gained national attention and attracted golfers from 22 states and Canada. This year's field includes golfers from South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida.

The tournament, which is sponsored by the Carolina Musculoskeletal Institute Foundation, is being held at Woodside for the first time. It was held twice at Aiken Golf Club.

"We have so many out-of-town players coming in, and they seem to enjoy playing at different clubs," said Flo Holford, the tournament chairwoman.

She said the organizers will arrange activities for nongolfers who come for the festivities.

Mr. Hofstetter, who had double knee replacement surgery in 1999, said he enjoys playing golf and interacting with the other competitors.

Before he had his surgery, he said, he thought he might have to give up golf. Six months after his operation, however, Mr. Hofstetter was back on the course.

"I'm enjoying it even more now," he said.

Mrs. Cason first played in the tournament after she had a hip replacement.

"I didn't play last year because I had a knee replacement," she said.

Teams will be set up by the Woodside pro shop based on the USGA handicaps provided by each golfer.

"Every summer I think this is going to be the last summer I'm going to be able to play, and there I am again," Mrs. Cason said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: The 14th annual Bionic Invitational Golf Tournament

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1: cocktail party, Palmetto Golf Club, 275 Berrie Road; Monday, Oct. 2: 8 a.m. continental breakfast, 9:30 a.m. golf tournament, 6 p.m. cocktails, 6:30 p.m., awards dinner, Woodside Plantation Country Club, 1000 Woodside Plantation Drive

COST: $125 entry fee or $160 for two players from the same family (covers breakfast, green and cart fees, prizes and banquet for two); $20 single, $30 couple for the Sunday cocktail party

INFORMATION: (803) 293-1409, (803) 648-9274, www.cmi.md