MSU Students Design Special Golf Cart Seat for Man with Special Needs

By: Jamie Edmonds
By: Jamie Edmonds

As any golfer knows, when the game gets a hold of you it doesn't often let go.

Ryan Politi knows that all too well, he's loved golf since childhood even though he's never picked up a club.

"He's diligent about golf," His dad Bob Politi said. "He knows all the players, he knows when Tiger's playing badly, so I guess he's not happy right now."

The 21-year-old has Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebal Palsy, which means he can't actively play, but his favorite thing to do is go out on the course with his dad.

"We used to have this mobile seat that would require me to pick it up with brute force and put him inside," Politi said.

When Ryan grew out of that seat, his parents weren't sure what to do next. Enter five Michigan State University Engineering Students.

"We met with local golf cart companies and several golf pros in the area to get their input," Andy Starck, an MSU senior said.

As part of their senior project, the group designed and manufactured a special seat, one that easily snaps in to any universal golf cart.

"This folds out and these two straps on the side come down to secure the device to the cart," Starck explained as the group showed how the seat can be secured in under a minute.

Friday the students unveiled the finished project to the family at the Country Club of Lansing. Ryan and his dad took it out for a spin.

Just as the engineers had carefully calculated, everything fit perfectly to Ryan's specifications.

"We could take this out all the time and play golf," Bob Politi said afterward.

After it was over, it was clear Ryan certainly approved, and so too did the Politi family.

"This really opens up the window for anyone, even my daughter who is an avid golfer to take him out," Politi said. "Before I was the only one, and even then we were worried about Ryan's safety."

The students said it was gratifying to see, more important that any grade, knowing a golfer at heart can enjoy the game he loves.

The students say they're not sure if they'll ever patent and sell their product.


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