East Bay News

Golfer with cerebral palsy proves to be inspirational

Monday, May 31, 2010

Everybody has challenges and it is how we deal with those challenges that make all the difference. Coach Marty has a particular way of overcoming the challenges he faces.

Critics describe golf as a waste of time. Four hours of hitting a ball, then chasing it, cursing it, and eventually rolling it into a little hole. That's the game to outsiders, at least.

But to really appreciate golf, a person must struggle with the game, be humbled by it, or maybe just get to know a player like Marty Turcios. Golf challenges him just to balance a ball on a tee before he even hits it, but when he does, it is 120 yards pretty much every time.

When he was asked what he suffers from, he said, "I don't suffer at all. I have cerebral palsy, and was born with cerebral palsy."

In 50 plus years, it has shaped Marty Turcios inside and out, but he has never used it as an excuse. Not while earning a master's degree in therapeutic recreation and certainly not in day-to-day living with his girlfriend, Melody Lacy.

"Marty's great lesson is patience. People are impatient with Marty all the time and think that he is stupid. They talk loud like maybe he can't hear or like the cable guy who didn't want to come in the house because he didn't want to catch what Marty has," said Lacy.

But what he has, in a word, is passion. The golf team at Salesian High School knows all about that. Marty is one of the reasons they made it to the state playoffs this season.

"I love him," said one of the students.

He has been an assistant to his friend and golf buddy Pete Sober for over four years.

"This game is a funny game, but there are some guys that are teachers, and not necessarily players. Marty can dissect a swing just like that," says Sober.

"Go like this and you will lose it. Stand tall, and just turn," says Marty to one of his students.

Marty goes to every practice, every tournament, always seems to catch the crucial moments and say just the right thing.

"Sometimes you have to listen to him to understand him, but he is just a fantastic coach," says high school golfer Steve Frias.

"We don't see him as disabled when we talk to him or come to practice, I mean, we just think of him as Marty," says high school golfer Adam Sanchez.

"There is a bigger picture with Marty. He's teaching me about life and just how he faces adversity with everything he does and he succeeds at everything he does," says high school golfer Victor Minchillo.

But still, you might wonder why a guy with Marty's physical challenges would choose this, of all frustrating sports. Well, maybe it's because golfers do equate the game with living.

But if you're looking for the actual moment, go back to when Marty was 7-years-old, the day when his dad and uncle were practicing on a putting green.

"And I said I wanted to try it and they laughed at me. And I said I want to try it anyway," said Marty.

In that moment, a young Marty learned the lifelong power of will and independence.

"I got hooked. It was just something I did on my own -- Golf. It was mine to do on my own," said Marty.

Four and a half decades later, that moment still drives him and not just with high schoolers.

Twice a week, he has another group of students, this time developmentally disabled adults. Marty meets them at a driving range and lets them swing away.

"He's into teaching people how to go golfing, not just how to golf," said Lacy.

At this level, they use different standards for keeping score.

"...Patience, determination, focus, confidence," said Marty.

"I think Marty is a true generous spirit. I'm not sure that Marty needs to be filled up on himself. He is already very successful. He just wants other people to be successful," said Lacy.

And who better to provide that example than a man who has come so far, who has taken the worst of life's lies and made a good play.

When someone says, "Well, you can't be perfect," Marty quickly replied, "Why not?"

It is defined as a game, but teaches qualities that are part of life.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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