Friday Fix: Rich O’Brien’s Golf Therapy

This week’s Friday Fix comes from our newest UGA Faculty Coach, Rich O’Brien.

Rich suffered normally fatal injuries seven years ago, but used his training in sport psychology, exercise science, and his love of golf to make a near complete recovery.

He now uses his training, life experience and storytelling skills to mentor, motivate and instruct golfers with injuries, illnesses and challenges.


Read on to learn more about his story and how you can get involved –

Golf Therapy Has the Power to Change Lives
I have met some of the most extraordinary people through my involvement with PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), Adaptive Golf, and the other programs for golfers with disabilities.  The participants that assemble across the country for these programs are battling a wide variety of physical and mental conditions ranging from spinal cord injury, partial paralysis due to traumatic brain injuries such as a stroke, neurological conditions and amputations. And in many cases, these brave individuals were also battling the debilitating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sense of loss that often accompanies such injuries.  

Golf instructors find it very fulfilling to be able to instruct these “gladiators” who refuse to quit when others would have given up long ago.  Society may have deemed them disabled and attempted to marginalize them, but their indomitable spirit and positive mental attitude often make these individuals unforgettable. The challenges that the participants face also often provides a unique test of an instructor’s teaching and communication ability.  And at the end of the day, students and teachers leave the course with mutual admiration, genuine appreciation, and a big smile on their face.

According to Dave Windsor of the Adaptive Golf Association and the 2015 PGA National Patriot Award recipient:

“I knew years ago that golf was more than just a game, but I never imagined the impact that on-going adaptive golf programs could have for so many people. It is very fulfilling to see many of the participants in the program regain a sense of freedom and optimism by attending the clinics. It is thrilling for me personally to be able to provide someone with the gift of golf.  And I think all of the instructors and volunteers in Adaptive Golf and PGA HOPE feel the same way.”


Inspirational Highlights
Meet one of Rich’s clients and friends, Fred Gutierrez. Rich has worked with Fred to help him improve his gain through golf but also his way of life. Fred’s incredible story was covered by Al Tays in his ‘The Challenged Tour’ segment on the Golf Channel, below…

Fred Gutierrez and Al Tays in ‘The Challenged Tour’. 


Getting Involved
If you would like to get involved in the adaptive golf movement, either as a participant, instructor or volunteer, I would encourage you to join our Golf Therapy…Using Golf to Overcome Injuries, Illnesses and Challenges group on Facebook or email me at

This group currently has nearly 5,000 members and has become a resource for connecting individuals with groups. As the group name implies, the page also highlights inspirational stories about individuals with the indomitable spirit that have improved the quality of their lives through golf as a form of therapy. It is amazing to see what can happen when a community lead by PGA Professionals, physical therapists and concerned citizens wraps their arms around these individuals and lends a helping hand.

Golf truly has the power to change people’s lives.   

CATEGORIES Friday Fix, Golf Therapy