NORTH PLATTE - Ross Perry of North Platte no longer can walk on his own two feet, but golfing has once again been restored to his lifestyle.
Due to poor circulation in his legs, Perry has had both legs amputated just above the knee and with that, he thought his favorite hobby was gone. His journey with health issues began with cardiovascular problems.
“That has a lot to do with where I’m at right now,” Perry said. “Twenty-some years ago I had a triple bypass in Kearney on the way home from the state wrestling tournament.”
Perry said everything was fine for a time.
“Then about six years ago I had to have an artificial aortic valve put into my heart,” Perry said. “It’s called a Tavr Procedure and then I’ve had terrible leg circulation all my life.”
He had numerous operations to try to get the veins to open up in his legs.
“Finally, it came to the point in 2015 that I had to have my right leg amputated because there was no circulation there,” Perry said.
Perry recovered and began learning how to use a prosthesis.
“I was starting to learn to walk, but that’s a very difficult thing for a man of my age,” Perry, 70, said. “But life went on and then all of a sudden they noticed that the circulation in my left leg was really bad.”
Doctors did surgery and the circulation improved in his remaining leg.
“They did say I had 100 percent blood flow in the left leg, so I was happy with that,” Perry said. “I went home, and within a matter of a month, where the incision was made, it got infected.”
He was working at the Bill Summers auto dealership and his leg was bleeding so bad they took him to Lincoln in an ambulance.
“I was pretty much done and the next morning when I woke up, the doc said I had two choices, one was to have my leg amputated and the other one was to die,” Perry said. “So I just looked at my wife and said, ‘What do you think dear?’”
Perry laughed, but said that was a tough deal. He and Linda celebrated 50 years of marriage last year.
“But my entire family and all of my friends and whatever and the Lord have been the reason for where I am today,” Perry said. “I praise Him and give Him thanks for that. So many prayers have helped.”
The question for Perry was what to do now.
“My prothsesis guy, Jim Setliff of Kearney, called me one day and said, Ross, you’ve got to look on the internet, you’ve got to look into this golf cart called the SoloRider,” Perry said. “He said he had just gotten back from the United States annual disability golf tournament and he said these guys are playing and you just need to look into it.”
After a quick search on the internet, Perry found the cart he now has in Santa Ana, California.
“It’s used, but I called the guy up and he said, you know, I went to school at Doane, and he taught at Hastings College,” Perry said. “He was just shocked to get a phone call from a guy in Nebraska with no legs. He just took this golf cart and put it on a crate himself and he shipped it here to North Platte.”
Perry said he couldn’t wait to get out on the golf course.
“I’m telling you, there were a lot of whiffs,” Perry said. “It’s taken a lot of time to get used to and I’m still not used to it.”
The cart has three batteries that are strategically placed on the cart.
“The wheels and the tires and the suspension are all technology-designed so when I drive up on the green, my PSI (pressure per square inch) is less than a man standing on the green with his shoes on,” Perry said. “These are basically the wheels and tires of a mower.”
He said he has to wait until everybody else in his group is done putting.
“Then I approach my ball,” Perry said. “I drive up on a straight line and I exit on a straight line.”
The seat swivels both ways and can be raised or lowered to help him line up his ball. When he hits his driver or fairway woods and irons, he can adjust the seat to put him in an optimal position.
“I kind of move my stubs so I can swing and I can get the sensation that I’m actually standing,” Perry said.
Safety belts keep Perry in place, but that took some learning as well.
“It was really funny — one time when Linda and I were up on the driving range and that one belt came loose,” Perry said. “I fell forward into a ‘V’ shape with the other belt holding me in at the waist and my upper body pointed toward the turf. Linda had to help me get back into position.”
Perry said his game keeps improving and his best drives go about 200 yards.
“You can tell by the smile on my face I am so happy I could cry,” Perry said. “My friends out here at the lake are just so happy that I’m here.”
On Friday, Perry played a round in the heat and shot a 48 for nine holes.