Hole-in-one: Using one arm, Vile ‘scoring same or better than a lot of his peers’

It’s hard enough using two arms to golf.

Joey Vile uses one arm.

The Warren Area High School (WAHS) freshman has been finding alternative ways to make everyday things work his entire life. Golf – among other sports- is just another thing on the list.

“He doesn’t have hardly any use of his left hand,” said Joey’s mother, Karen Vile. “He had weakness on his left side that we noticed when he was a baby, and so he had to adapt with that.”

Surgeries to attempt to correct the weakness worked well on Joey’s left leg, but the attempts to correct the tendons in his hand and wrist weren’t as successful.

“It helped a little bit for a while, but that’s about all they can do,” said Karen. “They said there’s a couple things they could do as he gets older.”

If there’s a disadvantage, no one has told Joey. The 15-year-old has been involved in football, basketball and baseball, as well as his continuing involvement in golf, bowling and horseback riding. Joey’s been able to find ways to participate and stay competitive.

As a four-year-old, Joey would roll his Little Tikes basketball up his body before shooting hoops with his right hand. While playing tee-ball, Joey caught and threw with his right hand, pulling off his glove in between.

Using one arm for sports was something Joey hadn’t always done. When he was young, he was encouraged to use two hands.

“We tried to get him to use two hands, but he was more comfortable with one,” said Joey’s father, Joe.

“When I found out he was using one hand, I asked Eric Gurdak-the pro at the country club- ‘should we be teaching him to use both hands?’ And he said, ‘He does so well with one hand, I wouldn’t change it,” said Karen.

At the start of the 2013 WAHS boys varsity golf season, Joey wasn’t expecting to play. Being a freshman, he figured he would be sitting out. But that wasn’t the case. Joey participated in two matches and two invitationals for Warren. In a match against Eisenhower at Cable Hollow Golf Course on September 12, Joey scored a 57 over nine holes.

WAHS golf coach Dan Passmore has been more than happy with Joey’s performance.

“A right-handed golfer, the majority of their swing is supposed to be their left arm,” said Passmore. “He’s playing right-handed, swinging with his right arm, which is supposed to be the arm that basically just goes along for the ride and that’s the only thing he’s doing. So it’s even more amazing that he can do it using his right arm.

“He’s scoring the same or even better than a lot of his peers,” said Passmore. “Joey’s the last person who thinks he’s got a disadvantage.”

“Some of the guys on the golf team told me that I could hit further with one arm than they can with two,” Joey said.

Passmore was equally impressed with Joey’s game during team tryouts.

“He was talking about not wanting to hit too far and get in trouble and stuff like that,” said Passmore. “I watched him drive off the ball, I watched him hit a long iron shot, I watched him hit a short iron shot. I saw him chip, I saw him putt and he never hit a bad shot.

“I was just completely amazed,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised how good he is at hitting the ball when people struggle hitting the ball with both arms.”

Joey’s no stranger to the golf course. He started playing with his father Joe, and his brother Brandon, at five years of age. When Brandon started working at the Conewango Valley Country Club (CVCC), Joey started playing even more, escalating to a one-stroke win in his age bracket in the 2007 CVCC club championships.

After shots to the left or right by the other golfers, Joey denied the driver his dad was trying to hand him.

“I said, ‘Give me the six iron,'” said Joey

“Instead of hitting the driver and being worried about, the longer the club, the harder it is to hit, he says, ‘I’ll hit two good six irons,’ which he did,” his father said.

“I was sweating that day,” said Joey.

While golf is Joey’s favorite sport to play, he’s hoping his future holds a spot as a football announcer.

“He’s a walking sports encyclopedia,” said Karen.

Passmore is looking forward to keeping Joey on the high school team.

“I completely expect him to get better every single year,” said Passmore. “I don’t think he’s maxed out. I don’t think he’s doing as well as he will do by any means. I really, genuinely, know that Joey himself thinks he’ll get better every year, and that’s neat to see.

“I’m really looking forward to the next three years to see him progress,” said Passmore.