EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Hitting a golf ball two-handed can be a struggle for a lot of golfers, but what about hitting it with one hand, and hitting it extremely far? SportScene 13’s Neil Hebert has the story of one area man who overcame a tragic accident to become arguably the best one-handed long driver golfer in the country in this week’s Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week.
One hand, no problem.
“I live and breathe golf. I love it,” Jason Aken of Thorp said.
Aken hits golf balls well over 300 yards with ease. And he does it with one hand. This past weekend, he won the ParaLong Drive Cup in Myrtle Beach. But he doesn’t use just the one hand by choice.
“I ended up losing these 3 fingers in a 90-ton press bending sheet metal,” Aken said about the last 3 fingers on his left hand during an accident at work almost 7 years ago.
“I remember thinking when my fingers got crushed; I actually had to finish the cycle to get my hand out,” Aken explained. “I looked at it, I cringed, I finished it (the cycle) and I brought my hand out; my fingers were kind of attached and the pain hadn’t sunk in yet.”
And the first thing that came to his mind?
“I thought, ‘I’m not going to be able to golf in the spring,’” Aken said.
After the accident, it took him close to 2 years to get back out on the golf course, but he’s been working ever since to get to where he’s at now: one of the best one-handed long drive golfers period.
“If you told me, right after my accident, that I was going to be hitting it this far with one hand, I probably would have laughed at you,” Aken said with a laugh.
Aken hasn’t let his disadvantage hold him back from being great at what he does. He competed in the long drive competition, the Mile High Showdown in Denver, over a month ago and hit 5 shots longer than 300 yards. His best? 367 yards, good enough for 22nd place in his heat. Aken's disadvantage going up against two-handed golfers hasn't held him back from being great at what he does.
“I never want to feel handicapped. Ever. That’s why I went to the world one against the guys with two hands.”
Hitting golf balls isn’t the only thing he’s had to change to make work in his life, but he’s taken most things in stride.
“A lot of people don’t know what it does entail,” Aken said of the challenges everyday life brings him. “There’s usually at least one challenge every day, but it’s how you handle it.”
His left hand is hypersensitive to touch. He wishes, if anything, he had no feeling in it at all. Doctors say eventually the pain may subside, but until then, he’ll be out on the course or the driving range every chance he gets.