Brandon Canesi’s Hole-in-One: No Hands, No Problem

Mar 13, 2018

You may think that having hands is a necessity for hitting a hole-in-one, much less playing golf or swinging a golf club. Brandon Canesi wants you to know that you’re wrong.

A Golfer is Born

Canesi was born without hands, but he has not let that slow him down for a minute. As a child, he would watch his older brother and grandfather play golf on the course behind his grandfather’s Florida home. Undeterred by his lack of hands, and determined to emulate everything his older brother did, Canesi grabbed the golf club, tucked it underneath his arm, and swung. And it worked.

As Canesi grew older, he grew taller, but golf clubs did not grow alongside him. Unable to fit the club underneath his arm anymore, Canesi moved onto other sports. He skateboarded, snowboarded and surfed. He played tennis, football, basketball and even became a baseball pitcher.

Trial and Error: Building Adaptive Golf Clubs

But his family was a golfing family, and Canesi missed the mental aspect of the game. When he was 16, one day he mentioned to his uncle that he wanted to play golf again. This posed a problem: there were no golf clubs long enough for Canesi to tuck under his arm. Thus began the long project of making customized clubs to fit Canesi’s unique needs.

“[My uncle] put in hours and hours thinking of how to get it done, researching, getting the materials and trying to talk to brands about how it could be done,” Canesi says. “But when he would talk to anyone, they would say it was impossible and hang up the phone.”

Canesi’s first set of golf clubs was heavy. The steel club didn’t make a good noise when it hit the ball, and it didn’t swing quickly. They went back to the drawing board.

For the next set, they tried graphite, a lighter and stronger material.

“I just saw strokes flying down on my scorecard. I was hitting quality shots a lot farther and a lot straighter,” Caensi says.

Hole High

Today, Canesi’s score averages in the 80s. When he realized how successful he could be as a golfer without hands, he was moved to action.

“I thought that there may be other people out there in the world with limitations like mine that maybe don’t know they could play the game of golf because clubs like mine don’t exist in stores. You can’t just go buy them,” Canesi says.

In late 2016, he founded Hole High, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring people to overcome their limitations and to raising awareness for adaptive golf.

He leads by example; mediocrity is not a word in Canesi’s vocabulary.

“Most people are happy with the fact that I’m just out there playing, but I don’t want to just be known for being able to play,” he says. “I want to be as good as I can possibly be…if anything is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”

Attending Golf College

One evening, Canesi was watching the Golf Channel when a commercial for Golf Academy of America caught his eye. Immediately, he went online and applied. Today, Canesi is a couple months into his tenure as student on the Myrtle Beach campus.

“I was a little concerned, because I didn’t know if my limitations would be a problem for the instructors. They never see anything like me,” Canesi confesses. “I can see now that it isn’t a problem at all. I love all the golf fundamentals. Because my swing is a little different, I don’t take everything to heart, but I try to remember it and know everything, so I can teach others.”

The Hole in One That Went Viral

Canesi’s ambitions are great and many. He wants to compete. He wants to play in the Paralympics. He wants to start a chapter of The First Tee, a youth golf program, in his hometown in South Jersey. He wants to teach adaptive golfers, he wants to teach children and he wants to act as a role model for all.

He’s getting that chance. Canesi recently scored a hole-in-one – his second – and captured in on film. His video is now going viral, making the rounds across social media and the golf blogosphere. He’s been written about in some of the biggest golf publications, and he has even been contacted by Nike.

“The reaction…it showed the world what I’m trying to do and it’s beyond making my dreams come true already,” he says.

But what means the most to Canesi isn’t the attention from the big outlets or huge corporations.

“I’ve had a lot of people message me from all over the world telling me their story and how I inspired them, and that’s really all I’ve ever aimed to do,” Canesi says. “If I can become someone’s role model, then I’ve already succeeded.”

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