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Hudsonville high school golfer wins One-Armed tournament, earns national ranking

Sophia Howard, a sophomore, finished 2022 ranked second in the nation in the U.S. Adaptive Golf Alliance's rankings.

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. — Athletes come in all shapes and sizes. Not many people embody that idea better than Hudsonville High School golfer Sophia Howard, whose talent is putting her on the map on a worldwide scale.

"I picked up golf about five years ago," says Howard.

It started with joining her dad on the weekends. Now, it's much more, as Howard is a sophomore on her high school team with her eyes set on a future in the sport.

Unlike her high school teammates, Howard has an obstacle to overcome every time she steps on the course.

She's golfing with one hand.

"I was born with it," says Howard.

Her mom, Karen, never thought golf would be an option.

"We were steering her towards soccer for obvious reasons," says Karen.

Today, however, she couldn't be prouder.

"She competes with able-bodied golfers," says Karen. "She has to work much harder. She's putting in double time of practice and lessons and commitment."

That work is paying off.

Last month, Howard competed in the North American One-Armed Golfer's Association (NAOAGA) winter regionals in Florida. She came in first place among all juniors.

"I was the only female playing in the junior category," says Howard. "So, it felt nice to be on top."

She also finished 2022 as the second-ranked golfer in the country in the U.S. Adaptive Golf Alliance's (USAGA) rankings, and is set to partner soon with Nike Golf.

She's thankful to have found a community in both Hudsonville and in adaptive golf that helps her thrive.

"We don't have to worry about people looking at us or judging us," says Howard. "We just can go play our game and just kind of play freely."

Sophia plans to continue playing golf throughout high school and hopes to play collegiately once she graduates. She encourages people to support organizations like NAOAGA and USAGA to help kids like her get into playing adaptive golf.


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