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Bill helped me golf for charity from my wheelchair …
We even took the show on the road, the brain-child of golf pro Bill Penny, who’d devised one of the many systems we used over the years to sepa- rate backers from their money. They’d bet on my final shot total, and the winner got a new putter, generously donated by the Ping golf people.
Our first stop on what became known as the “Cam Tait Charity Golf Tour” was in Bill’s hometown, beautiful downtown Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where another hometown boy, Clark Gillies, who won several Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders, held a charity tournament. Bill must have been pretty sure I’d get there— he was walking around the reception the night before the event with five drinking straws sticking out of his back pocket.
I had a great hole, shooting a 15 and, to everyone’s surprise, including mine, finishing off by three-putting. Maybe it was my
new equipment. Bill had someone in the back of the golf club’s pro shop cut down a three-wood driver so I could swing it from a sitting position and get more power behind it than with the regu- lation-size three-wood I’d used in the past. We also had a putter custom-made like a hockey stick to give me better control, and a golf bag for me that had my name on it.
The hole raised $1,500 for a wonderful cause: a young boy from Moose Jaw needed some surgery to repair damage to his throat. Over the three years of the project my scores ranged from 31 on a really bad day to—honest to God’s truth—a 7, shot at Bill’s Pro-Am on the 18th green from the ladies’ tee: one shot off the tee, three on the fairway and three putts.
Bill couldn’t resist. “Next year, we make things a little more difficult,” he said. “We’re going to have the Cam Tait Sand Trap Clinic.” And he kept his word. Rather than having me play a hole, Bill wheeled me into a sand trap beside the 18th green—right in the middle—and dropped a golf ball.
“Have a good time,” he said. “And, if you’re still in there when it gets dark, I’ll pull my truck around and we’ll shine the head- lights on you.”
We changed the betting, too. Golfers bet how many strokes and how many minutes it took me to get out. The winner had 42 shots and 48 minutes.