Golf instructors keep wounded warriors active
James Bond of the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa receives instruction from Bob Wilson of the National Amputee Golf Association during an Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation golf clinic for wounded warriors Oct. 18 on the Osprey Ridge course at Walt Disney World Resort.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Instructors from the National Amputee Golf Association and the Adaptive Golf Academy delighted Soldiers from conflicts past and present with a wounded warrior golf clinic Oct. 18 at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation event took place on the resort's Osprey Ridge golf course in conjunction with the 2011 Children's Miracle Network Classic. The professional tournament competed on Disney's Magnolia Trail and Palm Courses, which wrap around the Shades of Green Armed Forces Recreation Center.

Most of the current Soldiers, wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, came from the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit in Orlando, Fla. Several Army and Marine Corps combat vets came from the Adaptive Sports Programs at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa.

David Windsor, the North Florida Professional Golf Association's 2008 Teacher of the Year and principal of the Adaptive Golf Academy, welcomed the group to Osprey Ridge, as did Army MWR Golf Director Michael McCoy.

"I've been given the pleasure of welcoming you all and to give a golf salute to all of you who are serving and have served. This is our way of giving thanks here at beautiful Disney," Windsor said. "We think dearly of the game. There are so many things that you can hopefully realize today with some trial and some error that can make you a little bit better as you pursue those bigger things out there in the world.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the game of golf. Many of these guys wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the game of golf. It is a brotherhood that has derived."

Nobody knows that better than National Amputee Golf Association Executive Director Bob Wilson, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who lost both of his lower legs while serving aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. He traveled from Amherst, N.H., to work the clinic with partners Rick Monroe, of Austin, Texas, and Marty Ebel of Houston.

Navy veteran Monroe lost the use of one arm 30 years ago through an accident on the USS Enterprise. He derives more satisfaction from giving back to the troops than they could ever imagine.

"I always feel like I get more out of it than they do, absolutely, because if I can communicate anything to these guys, it is that a good life is still possible for them," Monroe said. "Obviously, golf is a great game, but it's also a lifetime game, so by communicating that they don't have to sit on the couch -- that they can be active, productive and live a good life. We're trying to give them the idea that they can do this."

Windsor seconded the sentiment.

"When I introduced the group from Tampa -- they are all Vietnam veterans -- it was just a great feeling to know that I'm helping a generation that was serving our country when I was born in 1970, and when these guys had their boots on thousands of miles from here," Windsor said. "And now I have an opportunity to teach them about a game that I love and have a passion for -- and I think I can teach a swing or two and get them on the bandwagon to be playing this game -- that's just an honor.

"Today, these guys have a job to do so my Family is safe here on our soil. And today, I feel at home, so that's my job: to give them something that's going to keep them on a positive track when they are back home to their Families. There's no better feeling, and it's super-contagious.

"Just to see that sparkle in their eye. That humbles you."

Page last updated Mon October 31st, 2011 at 10:49