Sylvia Sabin, 64, of Granite Bay recorded her first hole in one using only one arm.

Woman needs only one arm to get a hole in one

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013 - 12:29 am | Page 3C

Sylvia Sabin made her first hole in one Thursday. Sabin aced the par-3 third hole at Diamond Oaks. She used a driver from 89 yards.

One arm wasn't tied behind her back to show off for her husband, Richard, her playing partner that day, but for all the good it did her, it might as well have been.

Sabin's left arm hasn't been of much use to her since a 2002 car accident prompted thoracic outlet syndrome, multiple surgeries and a combination of pain, numbness, tingling and weakness caused by pressure on the nerves or blood vessels that pass into the arms from the neck.

It's certainly no help in swinging a golf club.

"My hand would turn blue," she said.

So Sabin, 64, swings with just her right arm.

She starts every hole no farther than 150 yards from the green. She uses mostly lofted woods and an old-fashioned chipper. She laughs a lot and enjoys the game even more than the three years she played between taking up golf at 50 and before her accident.

"I don't take things so seriously," she said. "I get in a bunker, I throw it out. I have fun. I don't worry about lousy shots."

Sabin, a Granite Bay resident, credits Ruben Samaniego for helping get her game back and her attitude. Samaniego was a local teaching professional who took joy in working with physically challenged golfers. Samaniego, who died of stomach cancer in 2007 at 64, worked with Sabin in 2005.

"Ruben taught me that you're out there to enjoy yourself and have fun so that you want to come back," she said. "I usually don't keep score. That's not important to me. What's important is to enjoy the round and the people that I'm with."

Sabin said she isn't going to be embarrassed by the hole-in-one listing saying she used a driver from such a relatively short distance. Swinging with one arm is harder than it looks, she said, adding that those who try it after watching her "usually blip it about five yards in front of them."

Richard tried to re-create the ace the next day at Diamond Oaks using one arm from the same tee his wife used.

"He hit it into the lake," Sabin said, cackling, of course.

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