“I promise I won’t do that to you again, buddy.”
Special Olympics USA Unified partner Les Holcombe was not satisfied with his shot. His golf ball now placed inopportunely, athlete Pryce Holcombe readied to recover their par for the hole.
Les and Pryce make a great team, not solely because they are father and son, but because they work as partners. Pryce has competed in Special Olympics since he was 8 years old. Les and his wife, Pam, raised their three sons on the green. That, they have done exceptionally well. At the 2019 Special Olympics North America Golf Championship in Tennessee, Les and Pryce claimed gold as a team in the Alternate Shot Team Play Competition. Three years later, they would return to the national stage, competing in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, where they won a silver medal. Now, at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, their stage reaches across the globe.
Once an avid golfer in high school and college, Les competes as a golf professional at a local country club in Alabama, where he runs operations. Playing at the collegiate level, Les joined the roster at the University of Montevallo. There, he set the precedent for his lifelong golfing career, which would someday include Pryce.
“I played in college, so I’ve been playing a long time,” said Pam Holcombe, Pryce’s mother. “All our kids were automatically going to be golfers.”
Pryce’s first years as a golfer were spent with Special Olympics Illinois, starting with Individual Skills Competition. After countless hours of practice, he has made it to exactly where he wants to be, next to his dad.
“The most important thing to him is that he gets to play with his dad,” added Pam. In Pryce’s words, “He’s my partner.”
The first day of golf competition in the Special Olympics World Games was held on Monday, June 19. Nearly 150 athletes and 33 Unified partners took to the green during the World Games, representing their respective countries. The Faldo Course, on the grounds of the Golf Club Bad Saarow, has a reputation for being one of the toughest in Europe.
“A lot of our athletes and caddies golf three or four times a week,” said Special Olympics USA assistant golf coach Adam Johnson. “They’re saying this is the hardest course they have ever seen.”
The pair entered the divisioning round facing Special Olympics Denmark. Cheering them on from the rough, Pam and Pryce’s brother, Payton Holcombe, waited nervously as the ball inched closer and closer to its final destination. Midway through the game, Les paused to reflect on their strategy so far.
“Considering we had a couple of shots that were a little off, to make a bogey, that’s good. Anytime we can make a bogey out of the long grass, that’s pretty good.” When asked if their team was winning, Pryce replied, “Always.”
After scores had been totaled, clubs had been put away, Special Olympics USA claimed their win, conquering the infamous Faldo Course by a three-point lead. The week has only just begun. With hours of competition left to go, miles of fairway left to walk, Pryce is just thankful to be here with his partner.