WASAGAMING — Gene Banks may have been knocked out of the 80th annual Tamarack golf tournament on Friday, but everyone in the senior men’s division views him as a champion.
Prior to last week, the Melita native had not swung a golf club since the fall of 2011 after getting into a car accident on Jan. 5, 2012. Parks was driving an ambulance that night, taking a patient to Brandon, and just north of Souris a vehicle crossed over into his lane and collided head-on with the ambulance.
The accident left Banks with two broken legs, broken ribs, cuts on his face and issues with his sight. This year’s Tamarack was his first tournament since the accident and he was happy to reach the final four in the senior men’s championship flight.
“I was quite satisfied to shoot that well and see the scores,” said Banks, who fell 4 and 3 to Selkirk’s Mark Starodub in Friday’s semifinals. “I didn’t really think I would do that well. I haven’t played the course this year, so all in all it was pretty good.”
Starodub will face Lac du Bonnet’s Bob Desroches in today’s final that tees off at 12:42 p.m. at the Clear Lake Golf Course. Desroches beat Onanole’s Keith Fawcett, who was the medallist, 1 up in the other semifinal.
While he didn’t make the final, Banks is just happy to be on the golf course again after recovering from the accident. Doctors in Winnipeg had to put a plate and pin in his left leg to help his broken tibia and fibula heal properly. A plate and 16 pins were also needed to repair his broken right heel.
Banks spent up to 18 hours per week doing physiotherapy in the summer of 2012 to learn how to walk again. The good news was that no one ever told Banks he wouldn’t walk again, so he was confident that would happen. However he dreamed of playing golf while doing his rehabilitation.
“Nobody told me I wouldn’t be able to walk and I thought I’ve got to be able to golf,” said Banks, who still has limited mobility in his ankles. “That’s something I strived for and worked hard to get back up on my feet.”
This summer, Banks put in his application to play in the Tamarack, but wasn’t sure if he’d make it. On July 2 he went under the knife again so doctors could remove his broken ribs — one of which was fusing with his lung — and a hernia behind his ribs, as well as part of his lung. The ribs were replaced with plastic ones.
The operation left him in an incredible amount of pain for the following month. It was so bad that he set up an appointment with his surgeon in Winnipeg four weeks after the operation, and Banks was told that level of pain was normal.
The pain eventually subsided and last week he was able to swing a club and played his first round of golf. On Monday, he shot an 80 at Clear Lake to qualify for the senior men’s championship flight and he beat Calgary’s Jim George in a match on Wednesday to reach yesterday’s semifinal.
Banks took some Tylenol to help deal with the pain of playing this week and modified his swing to make sure he didn’t hurt himself.
Although his game isn’t perfect, Banks is happy to be back on the course and hopes the Tamarack is the first of many tournaments that he will play over the rest of the year.
“I’d like to find another one,” Parks said. “There will be some small tournaments or whatever. … I’ll find some place to play.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 24, 2013