ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Darin Sargent plays golf like everyone else, except he does it with one arm.
Born without his left arm below his elbow, Sargent picked up a golf club for the first time 20 years ago. He routinely beats his playing partners, and just like any other weekend warrior, Sargent tries to rattle his opponents with a quick sense of humor.
"People ask me, when I hit a nice drive, 'Man what's your handicap?' I say, 'My arm, what's yours?'" Sargent says with a laugh. "Or I'll see someone hit a nice shot and I'll say, 'Not bad for a guy with two hands.'"
Sargent never let his disability keep him off the athletic field. The 41-year-old says he played basketball, baseball and wrestled while growing up. He took up golf, because he wanted a challenge.
"He's amazing," said friend Charlie Brown. "I always joke with him and say, 'When are we going rock climbing?' Because I'm sure he could do it. He loves a challenge.
Sargent says he routinely shoots in the low 90's and high 80's and can hit his driver about 250 yards.
When not on the golf course, he presides as the pastor of North Point Worship Center - a pentecostal church in Escondido.
"He's an inspiration to me and to a lot of people because of what he's been able to accomplish born with a physical handicap," said co-worker David McGovern. "He's accomplished more than most people with two arms that I know."
One of those accomplishments: a book Sargent wrote called "Thank You Mr. Jenkins," which tells of the difficulties he faced as a youngster and how he learned to appreciate his uniqueness.
Now, the father of three preaches his story not just to his congregation, but in motivational speeches all across the country. His message is simple.
"Attitude determines direction and direction is more important than speed," Sargent said. "Basically what that means is, it doesn't matter how fast or how slow you are going, as long as you have the right attitude, you will eventually get there. That is what I try to tell kids that are struggling.
"Everybody has something that they are dealing with. So when I talk to kids I say, 'Hey your attitude is what determines what direction you are going to go in life.' I could have spent my life whining and griping about it, but I decided, you know what, let's do something."