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Broken leg can't keep him from hole-in-one

James Scott had a leg to stand on.

That's it, one leg.

It's all the Medford golfer needed to make a hole-in-one at Bear Creek Golf Course on June 30.

Scott, who has thoroughly succumbed to the golf bug that bit him five years ago, didn't allow broken bones in his right leg and ankle to keep him off the course. The 27-year-old, his cast-laden leg hovering above the ground, aced the 140-yard seventh hole with a swing you won't find in any training videos.

Where he'd normally use a 9-iron, Scott choked down on a 7-wood, made a completely armsy swing and, on the hole that abuts Interstate 5, recorded his fourth hole-in-one.

"It wasn't very high," said Scott, who broke his leg on a golf course a little more than a month earlier. "It was about mid-tree line and came down and took one really good hop under the tree next to the bunker. I thought it was going to go under the tree, but it hopped back to the left. It was a back pin, and at the end of the day, it gets really shady on the green."

It was late in the day because it was Scott's last nine holes in a 36-hole grind for which, physically, he paid the price.

"My fiancé is sort of upset with me playing so much," he said. "She doesn't think it was a wise idea."

The biggest toll from playing two rounds wasn't on his leg so much as his arms.

"Carrying myself around on crutches, getting up and down the hills to the greens, it was a little tiring," said Scott, who, since his accident, has rented the executive course's only cart.

Scott's indoctrination to golf was through video games. A former football and baseball player, he decided the game looked easy and, while working as a "range rat" at Bear Creek in the summer of 2006, he tried the real thing.

"It seemed real easy," said Scott. "I thought, 'I can do this.' It was a rude awakening when I first went out there and shot a 62 for nine holes. It was really humbling. It became an obsession for me, to say the least, to get down to par or better."

A lofty goal, to be sure, but dogged persistence got him there on shorter courses. Scott said he's shot a 3-under-par 26 at Bear Creek, even-par 31 at Laurel Hill and even-par 35 at Stewart Meadows.

His game has improved enough that he's considering going through the Professional Golfers' Association certification program to become a teaching pro.

He has work to do on regulation courses because there's a playing test involved, but Scott is nothing if not resolute in his commitment to the game.

In part, that's how he injured himself.

Bear Creek owner and head professional Marla Corbin organized a road trip for members of her men's club to Running Y Ranch Resort in Klamath Falls. Scott wasn't pleased with his first 18 holes and, taking advantage of unlimited play, went out for another 18 with some buddies.

However, on the par-3 seventh hole, he shoved his tee shot well right. Rather than drive up to the green in the cart, he grabbed a wedge and jogged after his ball that veered off the course. A 11/2-foot drop caught him by surprise, and his foot landed in an animal hole.

His momentum carried him forward but his leg didn't follow, breaking the tibia, fracturing his ankle in three places and causing ligament damage.

Still, Scott tried to play only a couple weeks later.

"The first time I did go out, it was so painful," he said. "Just having the leg down and not elevated, it was throbbing constantly."

Two-and-half-weeks later, he tried it again — and came up aces.

The fourth time around on the seventh hole, he went through his routine: He used his crutches to get to the tee box, lined up, then threw them down; he placed the head of his club six inches behind the ball, gained his balance and started the swing.

He once took a lesson from Corbin to help him get through on his left side. That no longer is a concern.

Scott, whose unorthodox setup resulted in him bending a wedge, didn't see the ball go in the hole. Neither did his playing partners, Larry Hosmann, who thought the ball went over the green, and Angela Bates, who walked to the green and discovered the ball in the cup.

"She pulled it out for me so I didn't have to get up and go to the green," said Scott.

Scott, who had aced No. 7 once before in addition to Nos. 5 and 6, said the best part of the experience was Hosmann's reaction.

"He's been golfing with me ever since I started," said Scott. "He used to beat me all the time "… all the time. Now I can beat him consistently. He just shook his head and said, 'It's not fair.'"

The cast is scheduled to come off in a couple weeks, then Scott figures he'll have two months of physical therapy.

Chances are, he'll be back on the course before either eventuality.

Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com