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1-armed Trenchik hones his game

09/10/2014, 12:31am EDT
By By DAVE HACKENBERG BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Amputee will represent U.S. for 3rd time this week in Scotland

1-armed golfer hones his game

John Trenchik, left, will represent the United States in the Fightmaster Cup. The Blade

John Trenchik fell out of a tree when he was 9 years old. He suffered a compound fracture of the left arm, blood flow was interrupted, gangrene set in, and much of the arm was amputated.

“I was left-handed, and I lost my left arm,” the lifelong Toledoan said. “I had to learn everything over. Writing and eating were the biggest things. Try eating with your other hand sometime. It’s hard.”

Golf, meanwhile, has been mostly easy. Now Trenchik, 56, is among the best — if not the very best — one-armed golfers in the United States.

He is in Scotland this week and will play in the Fightmaster Cup for the third time. It is a biennial Ryder Cup-style competition held in conjunction with, and just before, that event at a course near the Ryder Cup venue.

It pits a team from the North American One-Armed Golfers Association against one representing the European-based Society of One-Armed Golfers. The three-day competition will begin Thursday at Stirling Golf Club, about a 20-minute drive from Gleneagles, where the Ryder Cup will be staged Sept. 26-28.

Trenchik has a winning record in the event, having played in previous Fightmaster Cups in Wales and near Chicago. This time, he was the leader in the two-year points system that determined the North American team selections.

He won the last four U.S. one-armed championship events he entered — at PGA National Golf Club in Florida in 2009, at New Mexico State University’s course in Las Cruces in 2011, at the CC of Maryland in 2012, and at PGA National again in 2013.

“I played in some national amputee tournaments and won a couple of them in the late 1980s,” Trenchik said. “About 10 years ago I got involved with the One-Armed Golfers Association. It’s a small, close-knit group, and I’ve made friends from all over the world. I really enjoy the competition.”

He has always been competitive, from his baseball days at St. Catherine’s Catholic elementary to playing on the golf team at Central Catholic High School.

“Herman Lang, the golf pro at Inverness back then, befriended me and had a big influence on me playing the game,” Trenchik said. “Jim Schmakel, the clubhouse manager for the Detroit Tigers, was my coach at Central.”

Trenchik carries a 6 handicap, playing regularly with a group of local golfers that “tours” public courses throughout northern Ohio and southeast Michigan. He lists Maumee Bay State Park as his favorite local course.

He has also competed in the Disabled Long Drive national finals, once finishing second by less than two yards, and is active in a bid to see that event added to upcoming Paralympics.

Retired from a nonteaching position with Toledo Public Schools, Trenchik co-owns a small carpet cleaning business. It leaves him with schedule flexibility to compete in one-armed events throughout the United States and Canada.

And that has again led him to the Fightmaster Cup, which follows an exact match-play Ryder Cup format with both partner play (fourball and foursomes) and singles matches.

Live scoring of the matches can be followed beginning Thursday at www.scrolf.com. Click on “watch leaderboard” to access the mobile site.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.

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