FIRST Swing” Golf Clinics offer warriors in transition an alternative to traditional rehabilitation efforts.
The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command developed the clinics in partnership with the National Amputee Golf Association to introduce wounded warriors to a game that allows them to have fun away from the hospital, and reinforces their return to normal daily activities.
The clinics also serve, for many warriors, as the initial exposure to a game they can play for a lifetime. They are designed to accommodate all skill levels, introducing the game to first-time golfers and coaching experienced players through adaptive and game-improving techniques.
The most recent of these clinics was conducted late last year in conjunction with the annual Disney Children’s Miracle Network Golf Classic. The Disney Classic is an annual event on the PGA Tour, and is conducted on courses bordering the Shades of Green resort, an Armed Forces Recreation Center in Florida. The clinic was held on the Osprey Ridge Golf Course, in Orlando, Fla., and hosted members of the local wounded warriors community.
The clinic consisted of a two-hour block of one-on-one golf instruction at the driving range for players of all levels. It also included a short game and putting contest. National Amputee Golf Association instructors Marty Ebel and Rick Monroe and PGA Tour players Rory Sabatini and Kris Blanks assisted with the instruction and provided a short demonstration of various shots.
Eleven Soldiers from the local warrior transition unit and 19 retirees who were guests at Shades of Green participated in the clinic. For the majority of the Soldiers, this was their first experience with golf, though many of the retirees were regular players.
The FMWRC will continue to coordinate with the National Amputee Golf Association, local medical battalions, and other PGA adaptive golf instructors to enhance the annual Orlando clinic and add sites at other garrisons to provide additional rehabilitation options for returning warriors in transition.