Loss of Leg Hasn't Slowed Fangio

Stephen FangioStephen Fangio has taken an incredible journey to a career in professional golf. He’s faced challenges that few have in his quest to someday make it on the Champions Tour. Fangio, who plays golf on just one leg without a prosthetic, is a great example of how not to judge a book by its cover. 

The 52-year-old Chandler golf pro was an aspiring professional soccer player who saw that dream shattered in a horrible motorcycle accident when he was just 22 years old. When he awoke from a coma two weeks after the crash, he pulled back the sheets covering his leg and to his shock noticed that his left one was missing. 

Fangio’s life changed instantly on the fateful day, and he proceeded to embark on an emotional roller coaster ride that included  sorrow, pain, denial and eventually acceptance that his life was forever changed. He realized it was up to him to pick up the tattered pieces and get on with his life.

“When I first realized that my leg was gone, I went into shock,” Fangio said. “Then I went into a deep depression for months, often asking ‘why me’?  That lasted for awhile until my first day in a rehabilitation center when I realized I was so much better off than most of the patients at the rehab facility.  Right then and there I quit feeling sorry for myself and decided to get on with my life.”

Credit golf great Jack Nicklaus and the 1986 Masters for his initial interest in a golf career. While watching the then 46-year-old Golden Bear become the oldest champion in Masters history, Fangio knew he found his new calling. For the next 11 years he worked on his golf game and in 1997 turned professional when he got a sponsorship from Cleveland Golf.

Since turning pro, Fangio has played in tournaments all over the country, which included qualifying tournaments for the U.S. Open, The FBR Open in Phoenix, The Sony Open in Hawaii and several Nationwide Tour qualifiers. 

“I love to compete against the best and that’s why I continue to try and play at the highest levels”, Fangio said. “At my age now that level is the Champions Tour, and it’s still my goal to qualify for a Champions Tour event.”

Along with his journey to play on the Champions Tour, Fangio has a few other interesting projects that he is focusing his time on – a series of golf instruction videos and a reality television show.

He recently released his first in a series of golf instructional DVDs called It’s Just Golf with Stephen Fangio, which is geared toward the recreational golfer, a group which makes up the highest percentage of people playing the sport.

It’s Just Golf with Stephen Fangio

“I made this video after years of watching people struggle on the course,” Fangio said. “I would watch them storm off, very upset about their game and not enjoying what this great sport has to offer. The game should be fun and that’s the approach I took with my first instructional video. I want to help people improve their game and enjoy golf more.”

Fangio’s current project is a reality-based TV show titled Improving Your Handicap. The show, which is being produced and directed by local AWI Films, will highlight Fangio on his journey to qualify for the Champions Tour. Along the way, the show also will showcase Fangio interacting with other everyday heroes who have overcome major obstacles in their lives to achieve their dreams. 

“When I was approached to do this show, I almost fell out of my chair I laughed so hard,” Fangio said. “But I realized this might be a great way to help people overcome great odds to achieve what they want, and if I can do my part to help those people, than I’m all for it.”

A pilot episode for Improving your Handicap was recently shot in the Phoenix area and included Fangio playing golf with ex-NHL superstar Jeremy Roenick and former NFL All-Pro Kwamie Lassiter; Fangio visting fellow amputees at a Valley rehab clinic; and giving an inspirational talk and playing golf with the children of The First Tee of Phoenix.

Improving your Handicap  is currently in post-production and hopes to begin shooting in February of 2011.

In his spare time, if he’s not on the practice range, the mechanical engineer continues to develop his line of putters, enjoys flying his turbo charged Cessna T210 (he is a licensed pilot) and spending time in his garage rebuilding vintage cars. 

Stephen Fangio has never let his handicap define who he is and that is obvious in everything that he has accomplished so far in his life.  The good thing is, he’s not finished yet. 

It’s Just Golf with Stephen Fangio” can be purchased on his website at www.fangiogolf.com, on Amazon (www.amazon.com) or on eBay (www.ebay.com).  For more information on “Improving Your Handicap” go to www.awifilms.com.


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