NORTON, Mass. -- The next time you shank a Srixon and swear you’re going to give up the blasted game, consider Mery Daniel.
Daniel has never known the frustration of missing a tourney-winning birdie putt or chunking a Pro V1x into a water hazard because she’s never played golf. Chances are pretty good, though, that the 31-year-old native of Haiti and Boston South End resident would weather such mundane irritations of the everyday player with the same optimism and good humor that have helped her get back up on her feet after losing her left leg in April’s Boston Marathon bombings.
"It’s the way that I look at life. I didn’t want anything to keep me down," Daniel said on Wednesday in Golfsmith’s Interactive Swing Zone at TPC Boston, site of this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of four FedExCup playoff games. "I’ve got to live. This is how I choose to live my life, to be happy and to live life to the fullest."
Daniel was one of about a dozen people who lost limbs when two bombs detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon almost five months ago. The terrorist act killed three and injured almost 300.
Mery Daniel receives custom-fit analysis from Golfsmith Natick, Mass., store PGA pro Craig Knight (Photo: Lynn Luczkowski for Golfsmith)
A partnership involving Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Nike Golf, and Golfsmith seeks to aid Daniel and several individuals who have suffered severe physical injuries from the Marathon tragedy on April 15 as well as other traumatic incidents by suiting them up for golf.
Golf retailer Golfsmith has teamed with Spaulding’s Back in the Swing Adaptive Golf Program and Nike to provide custom fitting, instruction, clubs, and other gear so that survivors like Daniel can continue their recoveries through golf.
"It’s about doing something, being up for the challenge," said Daniel, who, under the watchful eye of PGA Tour pro Robert Garrigus two days ahead of this week’s contest, hit a golf ball for the first time. "I just want to enjoy the moment. If I can play [golf] later on, that would be good; if not, then it’s okay."
For Muji Karim, who lost both of his legs and four fingers of his left hand in a violent car accident two years ago, Spaulding’s program offered the former University of New Hampshire football player a chance to get back in the game. Karim smacked a few balls one-handed and looked forward to taking his skills from the practice tee to the course.
"I never played before so I never swung with two hands, so the one-hand swing is natural to me," Karim, who lives in nearby Quincy, said with a laugh. "I don’t know too much about golf I just know ... Tiger Woods is really good. As soon as I get the chance, I’ll be out there playing once I get the clubs."
Karim also considered himself fortunate to be able to assist others recovering from serious injuries.
"Initially when something happens to you, everybody’s showing how much they care and it’s all this attention" said Karim, noting especially those affected by the bombings, "But then when it dies down months later, it’s you there with these injuries and it’s not front-page news anymore.
"When you get Spaulding and Nike and Golfsmith to come out months later and still help these people out and honor them and let them know they haven’t been forgotten," Karim said, "it means a lot."
Wednesday’s session was one of many "Boston Strong" activities Deutsche Bank Championship organizers are staging this week to honor the survivors of the bombings.
"We are proud the Deutsche Bank Championship is part of this strong community and we are excited to help raise funds and provide support to those involved," tourney director Eric Baldwin said in a statement.
Organizers have also asked players and caddies to don blue and gold ribbons throughout the week and fans to wear blue and golf attire for Monday’s "Boston Strong Day" final round. Spectators may purchase "Boston Strong" wrist bands for $3 in the merchandise tent as well as other areas around the course, with all proceeds benefiting One Fund Boston, an organization established to assist those affected by the bombings.
Survivors and their families may also attend the tournament's Labor Day finale as guests of the Tiger Woods Foundation, which runs the event.