Life Long Dream to Golf Competitively Realized by Cerebral Palsy Patient

golf“Can’t” is not a word in Jason Faircloth’s vocabulary. Jason, a 39-year-old man born with cerebral palsy, has been showing people he’s more than his disability from an early age. From birth, doctors told his parents that Jason may never be able to walk. He was walking by age five. They also said he may have trouble talking. Now, Jason often speaks in interviews and to crowds about his life with cerebral palsy. Jason’s greatest passion, however, is golf.

Who is Jason Faircloth?

After Jason’s cerebral palsy diagnosis at an early age, his parents – Hicks and Mylinda Faircloth – enrolled him in physical, speech, and occupational therapies three times per week. He also had to wear casts and leg braces growing up, to help build and maintain muscle strength in his legs. The braces helped Jason’s legs develop straight, instead of curved. A few times per year, every year until Jason was out of high school, his parents would take Jason to see a cerebral palsy specialist: Dr. Greene at the University of Chapel Hill.

Jason, however, always wanted people to know him for more than just his disability. He has continuously challenged people’s misconceptions surrounding cerebral palsy, teaching others about the disability by “going out and living life and doing everything the other guys do,” as he once said in an interview. Jason uses golf and his other activities to show that a cerebral palsy diagnosis does not have to define a person. Jason also encourages others with the condition to pursue their passions, no matter how far away they may seem at first.

Jason’s Amazing Rise to Amateur Golf

Jason was born to be on the green. He discovered his love for golf at age 12, when he saw a neighbor near his home in Clinton, North Carolina chipping a golf ball in the yard. From then on, Jason did everything he could to be around the game. Despite physical and cognitive challenges, Jason joined his Lakewood High School golf team, and continued playing long after graduation. His cerebral palsy affects “every part of his life,” according to Jason – yet he never let it stop him from playing the beloved sport.

Jason attended Sampson Community College, pursing a degree in Business Administration. Golf, however, kept calling. In 2001, Jason volunteered for the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. He saw how pro golfers prepared for the championships, and how everything works behind the scenes. He returned to volunteer again in 2005, 2007, and 2014. It was in 2011, however, that Jason fulfilled his lifelong dream to golf competitively. Jason became the first American to play in the Disabled British Open in St. Andrews.

Jason says he never really considered disabled-only golf tournaments until he found out about the Disabled British Open. He realized how big the event was, and what a great opportunity it could be for him. Jason played as one of just three people with cerebral palsy in the 2011 Disabled British Open, along with 87 other golfers total. He came in 6th place in his category, and 32nd place overall. The next year, he returned to St. Andrews for the 2012 Disabled British Open , and came in 2nd.

The United States Disabled Golf Association

Jason didn’t stop with becoming the first American to play in the Disabled British Open, however. He took his passion for golf a step further. Jason founded the United States Disabled Golf Association (USDGA), an association for disabled golfers in the U.S. He created the organization because he wanted the U.S. to have an event like the Disabled British Open, and like similar events many other countries have for disabled golfers.

Jason believes the USDGA can successfully organize competitions based on the number of Americans with disabilities and the number of golf courses in the country. Jason hopes to make the USDGA Open one of the best golf championships of its kind in the world. The USDGA hosted its first tournament in May 2018, modeled after the Disabled British Open. It had a total of 48 golfers. The USDGA is currently organizing the 2019 Open, which Jason hopes will be even bigger.

Jason’s Lesson for Other Children With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy does not have to define who you are, or limit the lives of your children. Despite Jason’s disabling cerebral palsy, he achieved his dream of golfing competitively, played on one of the most prestigious courses in the world, and now helps others with disabilities do the same. If Jason hadn’t pursued his dreams and continuously pushed himself to do better – with help from his parents – the USDGA would not exist.

Golfer Jason Faircloth is a great role model for all children with cerebral palsy. He has constantly proven doubters wrong, achieving more than his physicians originally thought possible. Not only is Jason walking and talking; he’s golfing, working, and helping others achieve great things as well. With treatments, determination, and optimism, children with cerebral palsy can fulfill their dreams for the future.