The cold and damp weather kept others off the Summerville Country Club course March 5, but Fred Gutierrez views such obstacles differently than most.
As always, Gutierrez was all smiles as he walked off the course that day. It’s rare to come across the golfer when he isn’t in a good mood and enjoying life.
That day, he had extra reason to be jovial because there were several people waiting in the clubhouse to honor him. Shortly after the golfer limped into the building, Town of Summerville Mayor Bill Collins presented a resolution to Gutierrez honoring him for the strides he has made in overcoming a disability, the example he sets for others and his charitable endeavors.
“This resolution serves as a token of the esteem and high regard held by family, friends and the Town of Summerville,” Collins said. … “We are proud of your achievements and you are an inspiration to us all.”
March 5 marked the one-year anniversary of the For the Glory of God Golf Marathon. During that event Gutierrez, who for years has struggled with paralysis on his left side, played 36 holes of golf. He walked the entire way and carded rounds of 85 and 95.
The marathon served as a fundraiser for the Gifting Warriors non-profit organization.
Just a year prior to his marathon it was a struggle for Gutierrez to walk eight holes. But he and former golf pro Rich O’Brien began playing together weekly and Gutierrez was able to increase his stamina.
As an added benefit, he also found ways to improve his game.
Gutierrez went from being a golfer who was self conscious about what others on the course might think about him and who was always worried he was holding up golfers behind him to a confident player who moves at a pace that rivals some golfers who have never had a disability.
He attributes the improvement in both his walk and golf game not only to the additional exercise, but also to acupuncture treatments, a series of Botox injections that help his taut muscles relax and his faith.
In 1996, Gutierrez was shot in the head. A .38 caliber bullet left a golf-sized hole in his brain and paralyzed the left side of his body.
He couldn’t walk or talk, but eventually relearned how to do both. Years later, he decided to take up golf again as a way to stay fit.
Because of the paralysis he had to switch from a left-handed swing with two arms to a right-handed swing with one. The gunshot also left him with only partial sight in his left eye so depth perception on the golf course presents challenges.