LINWOOD — Brandon Canesi steps up to the tee and unleashes a drive right down the middle of the fairway, a shot that would please any golfer.
But Canesi is not like most golfers.
Canesi, 24, of Northfield, was born with malformed hands, which make it impossible for him to grip a golf club normally.
Instead, he has to wedge his extended clubs between his body and his upper right arm to swing them. Despite an unorthodox grip, Canesi’s swing looks like something out of a golf magazine, perfectly balanced and on plane.
“I’m 5-foot 9-inches tall and was born just a little bit different than others,” Canesi said as he looked out over Linwood Country Club. “I’m just trying to get better every time I go out there, just like any other golfer.”
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Sonny Canesi, Brandon’s father, and Jeff Lefevre, the head professional at Linwood Country Club, are hoping to give Brandon a place to play competitively. They want to start a professional golf tour for people with disabilities.
“The tour would be open to those with any type of disability,” said Sonny Canesi, 53. “From Wounded Warriors to anyone else, we want to give them a place and, most importantly, a place to compete.”
Brandon Canesi’s love of golf started after a trip to visit his grandfather Jerry Marshall in Florida when he was 8 years old.
“After I hit my first shot, I was hooked,” Canesi said as he putted on the green with his dad. “It was just natural. I put the club under my arm and was able to swing it naturally.”
But Canesi had to take a break from golf from ages 8 to 14 when he couldn’t find a set of clubs that fit his needs. Traditional golf club shafts max out at about 40 inches. The shafts on Canesi’s clubs, made by his uncle Tom Parr, all measure 50 inches, allowing him to tuck the club under his arm to swing it.
Golf in the Canesi family is a tradition, said Sonny Canesi.
“Every Sunday we get out there and have a grudge match,” he said. “It’s time with my sons, and it’s something that I always value.”
Linwood Country Club is hoping to put on a tournament in the spring for golfers with disabilities, Lefevre said.
“I’ve known him since he was 6 years old, and the first thing that I noticed was the amount of determination he has,” Lefevre said of Canesi. “He just blends in with everyone else. He is a very inspiring person.”