Discovering a Love of Golf Post-MS
Mike House played baseball professionally in his twenties, then moved on to a career in construction. Before the age of forty, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), an auto-immune condition that attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve pathways. It’s an extremely frustrating disease to live with that impacts each person a little differently than the next. In Mike’s case, it caused significant communication issues between his legs and his brain.
“I am almost completely immobile. I can bear weight on my legs, but I have no stability, I can’t walk without using a walker, and can’t really even stand up without help or things to push on with my arms. I can’t understate this. I used to come home day after day and just sit on the couch, then struggle to get up to go to bed, then struggle to go to work. It was a bad cycle, and it was causing weight gain and health problems,” Mike told us.
After fifteen years without picking up a golf club, Mike learned about the Paramobile developed by Anthony Netto of the Stand Up and Play Foundation. While it did get him back on the driving range, Mike didn’t enjoy having to rely on others to help him get everything loaded up and then set up at the driving range. The process could take up to four hours.
While at a Golf Galaxy getting fitted for new clubs, Mike spotted an aboutGOLF simulator and realized he could gain back a lot of independence. Mike wanted more than the mechanics of playing a full round of golf from the tee to short putts on the green. He wanted to be completely immersed in the game.
“Let’s say I bought a launch monitor and hooked it up to my iPad. Or say I got a sim in a box. These products are cool, they give you the data on your distance, etc., and make it better than having no data. But cool isn’t something that is going to transform a person. My need was something so over the top that I couldn’t wait to get home and play again,” said Mike.
“The reason the aboutGOLF simulator is life-changing for me is that you made a product that lets me transcend reality for a couple of hours a day and even more on weekends. When I’m using the sim, because it is so immersive, I have had the ability to trick my mind into believing I’m a normal person for a little while.”
Mike worked with the aboutGOLF design team to create an immersive experience in his backyard. He designed a shed to fit his 23-foot, high-definition aG Curve, complete with sloped green for easy ball return and an automated tee so he didn’t have to worry about pausing during practice.
The shed Mike and team built for the simulator isn’t just a dark space for a simulator. The walls are decorated in his favorite scenes from nature with forests on either side of the tee. The ceiling features a beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds and a Laysan Albatross to signify a double eagle.
Mike even installed an infuser so he can play with the smell of freshly mowed grass and has plans for installing directional fans to simulate a breeze.
An installation usually takes the aboutGOLF team eight weeks, but Mike talked us down to a tight four-and-a-half weeks. He played his first round of golf on his aG Curve simulator on July 29th. He chose Teeth of the Dog, and he shot 143.
He gave himself a goal to break 100 in three months.
He did it in three weeks! It took him 6 weeks from the point of installation to break 90 and 3 months to break 80.
“I hate exercise for the sake of exercise, but the immersive nature of the sim lets me focus on golf and my shots, and kind of trick myself into the exercise. It’s the aG system that creates that whole mindset, kind of like how Starbucks creates an environment people want to hang out in for hours besides they make it welcoming and smell good. And basically, what the aboutGOLF environment has done for me is make me play every day so that I get the exercise without really thinking about the exercise.” Mike added, “My aboutGOLF installation has been freaking life-changing.”
His friends enjoy his new golf simulator, too! He invites buddies over for a couple of rounds, and he and his wife have a standing date night. “Regardless of who plays with me, we always get so into it that the competitive juices flow and the trash talk starts. The focus totally shifts because my disability is not the focus. The game is. And I just get to be one of the players.”
Mike added, “You guys gave me an environment I want to be in every day.”