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Released April 19, 2004


By Chris Rolley

LONG BEACH, Miss. - It's tee time right off the cart. With the help of a new specially adapted golf cart, people with disabilities will now be able to hit a golf ball without ever leaving their seat.

Through a recent grant from the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast now offers the only special-needs service of its kind in the southeastern region of the United States.

"It's great that Southern Miss Gulf Coast has taken the lead and offers the equipment available to the disabled in order to make their lives better," said Rodger Clark, director of government relations with the Bayou Gulf States chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

"This in turn, shows the disabled that with the proper adaptive equipment made available at no cost, the barriers that once existed are not around any longer," added Clark, a paraplegic. "Now the disabled can go anywhere and do anything the able-bodied members of the community can do."

Because of the grant, anyone with a disability is now able to enjoy the game of golf. Southern Miss' Toy Library and Technology Learning Center on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach houses a set of specially adapted golf clubs and a special golf cart - the "Model Tee" - at the Tramark Golf Course in Gulfport. The entire golfing experience is free for all people with disabilities.

Built light and safe, the "Model Tee" is able to go on the putting green without damaging the turf. The unique footrest moves with the seat and enables a person to rotate 360 degrees without physically moving his or her legs, allowing players to conserve their energy enough to play 18 holes of golf. If the footrest is unnecessary, the golfer simply lifts it and slides it out.

Placing the golf bag on the "Model Tee" is simple. Velcro fasteners on straps secure the bag, which can be placed on either side of the "Model Tee" for right or left-handed golfers.

The set of adapted golf clubs includes one 12-degree adaptive driver with graphite shaft (14 degrees reduced lie angle); two adaptive putters - one adult, one junior (the putters are adjustable to any playing angle and can be used left handed); eight irons - six adult and two junior (two to three with steel shafts for safety considerations); and three fairway woods - two adult, one junior (graphite shafts).

Shorter than the average golf club, the specially designed clubs are built to support someone who is sitting down while hitting a golf ball.

"This is really an incentive for people to get out and enjoy life again," said Jimmy Parker, director and voluntary liaisons officer for the Bayou Gulf States chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

The "Recreation Unlimited" grant also funds tennis wheel chairs as well as golfing equipment. Four tennis chairs bought with the grant are housed at the TLC. The $35,434 grant has allowed TLC to purchase the "Model Tee" golf cart from USGCA Golf Products, a "T-Up" Club (teeing device) from USGC Golf Products, the adapted set of golf clubs from Victor Kibalchich and four tennis chairs from Eagle Sportschairs. It also provides funds for publicity, travel expenses, other miscellaneous equipment and maintenance of the equipment.

"At Southern Miss we support our faculty in endeavors to apply their expertise to community needs, and this recreation project for people with disabilities is a great example of that commitment," said Dr. Tim Hudson, Gulf Coast provost. "An excellent university is a catalyst for positive change. For too long the need of people with disabilities to play like the rest of us has been ignored, but TLC's recreation programs makes sure that doesn't happen."

TLC is an established, university-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing education, interdependence and quality of life for people with disabilities. TLC serves individuals with disabilities, their families and teachers through specialized training and loaning assistive technology. TLC trains future special education teachers about assistive technology through collaboration with the Southern Miss Gulf Coast's Division of Education and Psychology.

For more information about the Southern MissGC Toy Library and Technology Learning Center and the "Recreation Unlimited" program, call (228) 867-2636. Contact the Tramark Golf Course at (228) 863-7808.


OCEAN SPRINGS -- Award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Ulrich will lead two photographic events at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on Wednesday, March 10.

He will present a nature photography workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then a talk and slide show called "Wildlife Images 2003" at 7 p.m., both at The University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.

Admission to the evening event is free and will be held in the Caylor Auditorium at GCRL. The veteran photographer will feature photos from his 2003 photographic safaris abroad and in North America. He will answer questions and sign his books during the reception following his slide show.

The registration fee for the all-day workshop is $50 per person, payable to GCRL. Registration includes a continental breakfast, light lunch and snacks. Participation is limited to 20. Though the workshop is geared toward beginners, Ulrich tailors the experience to meet needs for all degrees of skill.

"The beginners will definitely benefit from the workshop, but I always help the more advanced get something out of it also," Ulrich said. "I lead many photo trips and always find a wide range of levels."

Ulrich said participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.

Topics include a brief review of the principles of photography, relationships between shutter and aperture settings, fundamental elements of composition, use and timing of fill-in flash, digital versus film photography, techniques of close-up photography, and a brief discussion of slide etiquette, the photography business and marketing.

Ulrich grew up in South Chicago, graduated with a degree in biology from Southern Illinois University and taught for four years before launching his career as a freelance photographer. He has supported himself with nature photography for the past 29 years.

His library of more than 300,000 transparencies includes birds and mammals from all over the world. His photographs have been featured in publications such as National Wildlife, Audubon, National Geographic, Montana Outdoors and Life.

He has published six nature books, including Mammals of the Rockies, Birds of the Northern Rockies, Once Upon a Frame and his 2002 release, Photo Pantanal. Dr. William E. Hawkins, GCRL executive director, said Ulrich brings the scientific and artistic worlds together.

"Tom earns his living photographing wildlife all over the world," Hawkins sad. "He is an outstanding observer and a biologist. His approach to photography is to capture his subjects exhibiting their natural behavior."

The GCRL is home to the university's Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium is also a unit of the laboratory. The GCRL is part of the Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. For more information, call the laboratory at (228) 872-4200.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM