DENVER (CBS4) – Denver’s Jeremy Thee is living the life of a pro golfer. He’s got the bag with his name on it, shiny new free golf clubs, and more apparel than he knows what to do with. But the fact that Thee is even playing golf is a story in itself.
Thee is not unlike most golfers. If he has some spare time he can probably be found on the course. It’s his passion, and it’s also his therapy.
“As much as I love to play this game, I love practicing it just as much. So if I can’t play or I’ve had a rough day or whatever, coming to the driving range, chipping, putting, doing that,” Thee said. “Because I can wrap myself up in that.”
While Thee looks and acts like a typical golf addict, he’s not. He has a noticeable limp from when he contracted polio when he was 6 months old. It left him with an underdeveloped right leg which requires an 8-pound brace for support.
“The challenges have been more mental than they are physical … the physical things, you get used to it. You put your brace on with your leg, you know what to do, it’s just what you do every day,” Thee said. “The mental part of it what was a challenge and still is. It’s accepting and also realizing that it doesn’t have to stop you.
“It’s made me stronger, it’s made me the person who I am today. I definitely think that it’s added to the character and helped me become who I am.”
It was Thee’s father who got him interested in golf. He started by whacking balls in the backyard, but maybe more importantly; it was his mother who gave him the courage the try.
“My mom certainly knew that I was going to fail — it was inevitable — at certain physical things that I tried,” Thee said. “But she never made me feel any different. She just said, ‘Do it.’ She said, ‘Just give it your best shot.’
“I knew I was different … I knew I was, but when you have your biggest supporter in your mom making you feel that you’re not different, you’re going to try those things that normally you’re not going to try.”
Things such as writing an essay for Mizuno’s “Play Famously” campaign. The club company was looking for people who have used golf to overcome obstacles in their life. Thee was one of the first people selected. Now he’s sponsored by Mizuno and has received custom fit clubs, a staff bag, apparel, and he’s part of a national advertising campaign.
“It’s kind of crazy to see your picture in a golf digest that has Rory McIlroy on the cover,” he said.
Thee hits it 240 off the tee, and he doesn’t just drive for show. He’s a 14 handicap, but is determined to be in single digits.
“The best compliment that I’ve ever received was, ‘You’ve got a really great swing.’ Not, ‘You’ve got a really great swing for guy with leg brace,’ ” he said. “Getting that compliment, you’re a good golfer; it’s awesome because there’s no other name attached to it, there’s no other title — just golfer.”
Thee will get to prove how good of a golfer he is this September when he tees it up in Mizuno’s JPX Invitational with 12 others who are sponsored.