MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Due to a birth defect, Brandon Canesi’s hands never fully developed, giving him the ‘stumps’ he now uses every day.
Canesi said he will bear all the strange looks it takes for future disabled athletes to thrive.
“I do what I do to be a role model for kids," Canesi said.
Originally from New Jersey, Canesi spent time in Shriners Hospital receiving fitted prosthesis to help him play sports. Now, he uses golf to show no matter what the disability, mind can concur matter.
“Kids that have limitations, seeing me and showing them that they can do anything they set their mind to," he began. "Seeing them hit golf balls and growing the game and sharing my passion,” said Canesi. “It’s truly a dream come true.”
In addition to spreading the word through his own story, Canesi founded Hole High, an organization committed to ‘inspiring golfers of all levels to overcome their physical limitations and to educate the public about alternative golfing styles.’
“Brandon is Hole High,” said classmate and business partner Matthew Cooney. “The biggest thing we want to do is to show the world that there is opportunity. No matter what has happened to you or what you were born with there’s always an opportunity. We think golf is an outlet and a path to help people feel equal while at the same time getting outside and even making new friends.”
Canesi conducted a golf clinic at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas on Nov. 4 alongside pro golfers such as Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Na.
Earlier this year Canesi made his second hole-in-one and landed on ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter. He’s also appeared twice on the Golf Channel’s wake-up show ‘Morning Drive.’
“It was absolutely incredible just to see myself on ESPN,” he said. “I’ve done so much in the last 10 months. There has been so many things happen this year that I keep telling myself, ‘This is the best experience of my life.’”
The 26-year-old is more than halfway through his 16-month curriculum at Golf Academy in Myrtle Beach, where he will graduate in April with an associate’s degree. His classmates said he is the same easy-going golfer when the cameras are off.
“The very first day he got here I shook his hand," began classmate Brian Sears. “What hand?' Canesi interjected laughingly.
“I shook his forearm,” Sears continued. "His whole life he’s been battling with no hands. Obviously I follow everything on social media and it’s a great, inspirational story. But outside of the cameras he’s the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. I’m glad to say he’s a good friend of mine.”