How First Tee participant, Lev Abramson, discovered golf through challenge

When he was born, no one would have thought that Lev Abramson would become a golfer. His path to golf was borne out of necessity rather than choice.

Lev was born without a functioning left thumb and with a misshapen hand due to a congenital abnormality called a hypoplastic thumb. His parents consulted numerous pediatric hand surgeons across the country who issued recommendations ranging between four reconstructive surgeries to a single surgery with intensive occupational therapy.

Lev’s parents opted in favor of the least invasive approach when one team of hand surgeons remarked that Lev showed an early level of tenacity, suggesting he could learn how to build connections between his brain and his hand without as many surgeries.

Lev had a single surgery as a toddler and started intensive occupational therapy. As part of the therapy, Lev was handed a plastic golf club in order to teach his brain and hand to communicate. He was enthralled by the club and the ball, and together it was his favorite form of intervention and play. 

Occupational therapy sparked his love for the sport even before he could say the word “golf.”

By nine, he had won his first golf tournament.

Some might perceive his birth difference as an obstacle, but Lev indicates that it taught him the most important lesson of all: perseverance.

While he experienced pain and cramping and had to give up his love of playing catcher for his baseball team due to the risk of high velocity pitches jeopardizing his weak hand, he never got discouraged and maintained a devotion to golf.

When he joined First Tee – Colorado Rocky Mountain and was introduced to First Tee’s values, he finally had the words and the framework to express how he had been living his life and coping with his differences. 

“Having First Tee in my life from a young age allowed me to solidify my commitment to perseverance and understand its key importance to how I play golf and how I live life,” remarked Lev. 

Now, as a junior golf coach and Players’ Club assistant coach, he utilizes his experiences to positively impact other students when they are struggling. 

While his difference is not as visibly obvious now as it was at birth, it remains at play underneath the surface. 

Lev still experiences pain and has to approach every club grip with an extra level of intention and brain-body communication but is proud of his progress emotionally and physically.

“While my life and golf trajectory would have been simpler with a normal hand, I would not have learned the vital importance of perseverance and I appreciate First Tee for providing this framework. When situations get tough, I find a path forward and use frustration as fuel.”