When an industrial accident in 1984 deprived Lake Havasu resident Leighton D. Kidder of the use of his legs, he was determined not to let his disability keep him from participating in his favorite sports. Now he plays golf as good as he ever did.
Leighton Kidder is a retired telephone technician who once repaired dial phones, or what was called POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service. After his accident 32 years ago, the former resident of Wauconda, Ill., is relying on technology to help him pursue his love of golf. A member of The Courses at London Bridge Golf Club, and a league player who plays three to four times a week, Leighton uses a specially-designed adaptive SoloRider cart.
The SoloRider uses hand controls for steering, acceleration and braking so there is no steering wheel or foot pedals; it can be operated with one hand. The SoloRider’s electric seat gives the golfer the ability to position themselves in the desired hitting position and then return them more easily to the seating and driving position after they’ve played their shot.
Often you’ll see Leighton driving his SoloRider 10 minutes from his home, towing a wheelchair behind. With the SoloRider, he can drive right up to the ball, rotate the seat so it’s facing the side of the cart, and take a swing.
He swings right-handed with Cleveland and Cobra drivers, sometimes as far as 160 yards. The only outside assistance he needs is to have someone tee up the ball. He drives right up onto the green with turf-friendly tires. In fact, according to the cart manufacturer, a SoloRider exerts less pressure on the turf than someone who is walking.
Whatever he’s doing seems to be working: he consistently shoots in the 80’s and 90’s.
Leighton, 66, has been married for 42 years to his wife Kris, and has two grown boys and one girl, and two grandchildren. He moved to Lake Havasu full-time in 2001 because his father lived in the city and, “I was tired of trying to navigate in my wheelchair in the snow.”
He continues, “The Courses is especially accommodating. There’s no place I can’t go without a cart. All the employees make it easier for me to get around, allowing me to drive right up to the entrance.
“One time I was in the parking lot and my whole wheel assembly fell off. A pro shop staffer took it to the maintenance area and fixed it. I can’t say enough about the employees at The Courses.”
Paul Lepler, general manager of The Courses, says, “Golfers around the world love to tell everyone how difficult this game is to play. Now imagine the added difficulty for someone who doesn’t have the use of his legs?
“Leighton can tell you firsthand just how challenging that circumstance can be and he does it three to four days a week and he does it with a smile. If that doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.”
Leighton adds, “Having a lower disability is no reason to avoid doing what you love to do, just figure out how to make it work for you.”
Leighton also kayaks, plays wheelchair basketball and softball, owns a side-by-side ATV and is a member of the Havasu Side by Side Trail Association. But that’s a whole other story.
Learn about all the courses in Lake Havasu City and the surrounding area at golakehavasu.com