Ability shines at Spring Lake charity golf outing

Ottawa County

SPRING LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Amy Bockerstette is out to prove it’s not the challenges she faces but the skills she’s developed that define a person.

The 22-year-old Arizona native, who has Down syndrome, began golfing 14 years ago when her parents included her in a charity scramble they were playing in.

“She hit a couple and we turned to each other and said, ‘Wow, I think this girl can play golf,'” her father Joe Bockerstette recalled.

Amy Bockerstette was the featured celebrity golfer for the first annual golf fundraiser for Gracious Grounds at Spring Lake Country Club Monday. The group provides safe housing opportunities to individuals with unique abilities within the tri-cities — people like Amy Bockerstette.

She joined the girls golf team in high school. Her play won her a full-ride scholarship to a local college. It also made her the first person with Down syndrome to receive an NCAA athletic scholarship.

“She’s now in her third year at Paradise Valley Community College. And her team went to nationals this year, and so she became the first person with Down syndrome to play in a collegian athletic national championship,” Joe Bockerstette said.

In 2019, she was invited to represent Arizona Special Olympics during a stop on the PGA Tour. Teamed up with 2019 U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland, her tee shot on the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale ended up in the bunker. Bockerstette’s confidence never wavered.

“I got this,” she said.

Her shot out of the bunker landed on the green 10 feet from the pin. She sank the putt for par. A video of the play went viral.

Bockerstette and Woodland became fast friends.

“I love Gary Woodland. He was so incredible,” Amy said. “We are best friends. We text each other. I sent him a birthday video.”

Her father hopes her story serves as a lesson to some and inspiration to others.

“You should never put limits on your child. She, in this case, was far more capable then we realized,” Joe Bockerstette said. “We’re hopeful that what Amy has accomplished opens up opportunities for other adults with disabilities.”

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