Competitive Drive: Amputee golfer inspires through his love of the game

Competitive Drive

MCPHERSON, Kan. (KSNW) – As a child, McPherson high school junior Parker VanCampen was often in pain. “I had a hard time sleeping, and I’d always be clutching my leg. I started to walk, and it started to get unbearable,” said VanCampen. “We did X-rays and found out I had a tumor in my leg.”

Despite all efforts, amputation was the only answer. VanCampen would lose his right leg below the knee.

“At first, I hated it. I got down on myself for it,” said VanCampen. “But God made me the way I am, so I have to pursue what I feel my way is my way to go, work hard at it and just trust it.”

Standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall, the high school junior pursued basketball and baseball until injuries got in the way. He never expected he would fall in love with the game of golf.

“I’m not going to lie, I always hated golf for awhile, it was so boring.”

However, when he got his first pair of clubs, he changed his mind about the sport. The high school junior said that starting around the age of 10, he would sneak onto the course and play for fun. Soon after, he would get serious.

“I was watching golf videos on YouTube, and I was like, ‘you know what? I’ve always been kind of good at this, so let’s just keep it to it,'” said VanCampen. “I came out here and started playing everyday, and now it’s all I think about and talk about.”

The results of his obsession are often on display at Turkey Creek Golf Course in McPherson.

“He’s so tall, he has long levers and he hits the ball a long way,” said McPherson golf coach Kurt Kinnamon. “He’s a pleasure to have on the golf team, and he’s a very hard worker – he loves to be out here, he’s the first one here and he’s usually the last one to leave.”

“Results come from your hard work and your dedication to the sport, every ounce of your time and effort that you put into it matters,” VanCampen added. “Here, it’s all on you, between your mental game and your physical ability.”

On the links, VanCampen has never let his handicap affect his handicap. In fact, his ‘disadvantage’ doubles as his motivation.

“It pushes me harder because I want to be better than everybody else — I want people to be like, ‘he has one leg, and he’s beating me?’ I never thought of anyone caring about my story, I never thought of myself as anybody different, I just try to be normal,” said VanCampen. “Recently, I’ve tried to work hard at what I’m doing to try and play college golf, so I can continue to inspire.”

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