By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Tyler Swanson was on the fast track to a professional golf career when a car accident at age 20 derailed his plans.
Now, the 30-year-old Clinton resident will be sharing his golf knowledge with young athletes as the new Fulton High School golf coach.
Growing up in Clinton, Tyler started golfing at age 3 and won his first tournament at age 8. He continued to golf, playing on the Clinton High School team, and won All State by 11 points his senior year.
During high school, winning a tournament in St. Louis and then Disneyland qualified him for the opportunity to golf in Scotland on a course where golf originated. He was awed by the experience.
“It was very humbling and historical,” Tyler said.
After high school, Tyler attended Iowa State University in Ames on a golf scholarship and continued to participate in tournaments. In 2003, he participated in the Professional Golf Association tour.
“I thought I was on the top of the world,” Tyler said
However, everything changed not even a year later, during his sophomore year of college, when a car accident left him with a traumatic brain injury.
Tyler was driving his friend’s car early in the morning, traveling from Iowa City back to Ames for college exams. To this day, he does not remember what happened, but knows the car flipped into the center, grassy area of the road. Tyler was flung 75 feet in front of the car and his friend flew 25 feet behind it.
Tyler spent six weeks in a coma and sustained a right brain injury, which affects the left side of his body. He said it is like that side is a “half a second slower.” His coordination is not what it used to be and he walks with a noticeable limp.
“Basically I was reborn when I was 20,” Tyler said.
Waking up from the coma, he had to learn to do practically everything over again. He had to relearn to walk, to talk and even how to go to the bathroom.
However, Tyler is not angry about what happened to him, saying that anger only inhibits rehabilitation. As the person driving the car, he said he really has no one to blame. Instead, he said the experience has brought him closer to God.
While his injuries have prevented him from pursuing his dreams of playing professionally, he does not think that will always be the case. Ten years after the accident, he has slowly made progress with his condition and is better than he used to be.
“It didn’t put an end, it just put a delay to it (his professional plans),” Tyler said.
Through everything he has experienced, Tyler’s love of golf has remained. For several years, he has offered private lessons.
“But it sounds like I’ll soon be giving lessons to high schoolers that are on my team,” Tyler said.
Tyler will hold his first high school golf practice sometime in mid-August. He is looking forward to teaching the athletes before they develop bad habits and help them establish a good mental outlook.
“Golf is 90 percent mental and you have to think your way around the golf course to achieve the best results,” Tyler said.
He hopes the students will be excited to work with him and eager to play.
Samantha Pidde can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.