ARLINGTON, Va. — The staff at the Schofield Barracks Soldier Recovery Unit, Hawaii, didn’t know much about golf when they set out to offer a Golf Skills class for assigned Soldiers, but that didn’t stop them. What they put together turned out to be much more than a simple golf class in the end.
Carol Hickman, adaptive reconditioning support specialist at the Schofield Barracks SRU, said that the staff didn’t have much experience playing golf, so it was challenging for them to learn the basic skills at a level that they could teach others. They researched the sport and learned about practice drills and activities.
Classes started in the spring and are held bi-weekly at the Leilehua Golf Course. Hickman said that participants practice putting, chipping and driving skills. Richard Vogt, Team Army golf coach for the Department of Defense Warrior Games, has attended the Golf Skills class virtually and provided feedback on videos of the Soldiers.
The class has a number of benefits. Hickman noted a few, such as learning basic golf skills while being exposed to the sport and enjoying it together. Golf demands mental focus, which allows Soldiers to be in the moment. Moreover, it’s a lifetime sport that is very adaptable and offers low-impact exercise.
They’ve created a special environment where Soldiers can learn and have camaraderie together. Hickman explained that the class provides opportunities for Soldiers with golf experience to guide fellow Soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Hayes participated in the Golf Skills class, but it wasn’t his first time on a course.
“I did golf before,” he said. “When I was younger, my dad used to golf and I would get up early in the morning and tag along.”
When Hayes got older, he caddied for his father.
“Dad definitely gave me some tips,” he said.
If not for the class, Hayes said he wouldn’t have thought about returning to golf. It grounded him at a time when he was struggling to find things that interested him. He described it as a relaxing experience that pulled him away from worries and issues. He recalled being in the moment and allowing himself to focus on one thing instead of multiple things simultaneously.
For him, it was pleasant to be there with familiar people and to be able to share tips and guidance. He said the adaptive reconditioning program allows participants to go at their own pace.
“Going out there as a group was nice because there wasn’t pressure and you know that you are in a learning and experimental environment,” he said.
For Hickman, seeing the Soldiers establish connections is the best part. She said that a few Soldiers were encouraged to begin golfing together outside of the program.
“After spending a few hours out on the course, giving each other pointers and enjoying some relaxing time together, it is fun to see them start to form bonds with each other,” she said.
The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.