West Michigan golfer to play in first ever U.S. Adaptive Open

Sophia Howard is a sophomore at Hudsonville High School
Posted at 11:11 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 23:29:58-04

BYRON CENTER, Mich. — “My dad played golf a lot and one day he took be out on the golf course, and then one day I fell in love with the game,”

Meet Hudsonville native Sophia Howard.

“Three years ago I played in my first adaptive golf tournament,”

A wicked golfer with just one hand.

“Played there and I really enjoyed the competitive aspect of that game so since then I’ve been playing through school, though local tournaments and adaptive tournaments,” said Sophia.

She was born without a right hand and it hasn’t stopped her from breaking barriers in golf. Next week she’s flying to North Carolina to play in the first ever USGA Adaptive Open at Pinehurst.

“So there’s different categories that you categorize yourself in. I’m in the arm impairment division so I will be competing against three other ladies in that division but there’s 19 women going in total.”

It’s the first tournament of its kind. Golfers with physical and intellectual impairments, along with amputee golfers from all over the world will be represented. She applied for the tournament in the winter and found out just a few weeks ago that she was picked.

“I was sitting in history class. I saw the email come through on my watch and my face lit up. Not a huge reaction because my teacher was teaching, so not a huge reaction, just a huge smile,” said Sophia.

Now with less than two weeks to go 'til the tournament, she’s been working with her instructor to fine tune her game.

“What do you think you’re known for?”

“Oh my chipping. Definitely my chipping. It’s great,”.

“Are you confident in your chipping?”

“Oh 100% it’s the best part of my game,”.

While she is focused on her skills, the chance to be sponsored by one of the world's biggest athletic companies just fell into her lap.

“We were kinda talking about it and I was like ‘mom, I wish I was a brand ambassador for a brand, that would be awesome.' And I got home from school that one day and she told me and I was like 'wait really?' I thought she was joking because we talked about it earlier that day, but she wasn’t and I was just really excited.

Sophia and 6 other athletes were invited to be on Nike’s Adaptive golf team. Helping grow the game for people everywhere.

“Awareness in the community is huge. I think she’s a good spokesperson for the adaptive golf community and I think she’s a really good person and spokesperson for the junior golf world as well,” said Karen Howard.

She’ll only be a sophomore this fall but is eyeing Division 2 or 3 college golf in her future. But mostly she wants everyone to feel welcomed in the game she loves.

“I think it shows that golf is an inclusive game, right? You can look one way but play another way. Or you can be one age but play with other people. The game of golf is very inclusive and I think a lot of people will see that with this Nike team that it’s very inclusive,” said Sophia.

The U.S. Adaptive Open is set for July 18th-20th at Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina.