“Fore!” Army veteran Jesse Medina shouted, before launching a dimpled, ounce-and-a-half ball almost two hundred yards over a near-perfectly manicured lawn. Jesse is one of several veterans who gathered recently to work on their golf game.
Golf can be an escape from everyday life. For veterans, it can also aid in recovery from the invisible wounds of war as they transition from service members to civilians. We’re going to explore four ways golf can help warriors heal.
Life in the military includes a lot of time in close quarters with other men and women. From PT (physical training) in the morning, to mess hall for meals throughout the day, drill, and other efforts—all designed to create a trust and reliance on fellow service members.
That bond formed in service includes friendly ribbing, shared stories, and an understanding that those who never served sometimes don’t understand. For many veterans, that same camaraderie comes to an end once they stop being active duty.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), which collaborates with PGA to create opportunities for veterans, understands the importance of reigniting these bonds between service members. WWP connection events may sound trivial to someone who has never attended: a sporting event, a group dinner, golfing. But these gatherings help veterans get out of the house, and out of isolation. In a 2019 survey of the warriors served by WWP, three in four veterans (74.9 percent) report feeling at least somewhat isolated from others.
When warriors lose the regimen of routine PT after leaving the military, finding ways to get back in shape is paramount. Nearly 9 in 10 (87.6 percent) veterans who completed WWP’s Annual Warrior Survey are considered overweight or obese based on body mass index scores. Golf is a great option for staying active. Warriors get exercise while walking the 18 holes and stay engaged through the spirit of competition.
Jesse took up golf after going to an event with WWP. He loves competing on the course.
“For me, it is about challenging myself to make my body perform what my mind is thinking.”
Besides the physical efforts that come with golf, the game can also be tough mentally. Each hole requires a new perspective and strategy. And that is before you learn the terminology.
Many veterans, like Jesse, excel at overcoming challenges.
He also finds serenity with golf.
“Being outside and forgetting everything else other than connecting with the game is special.”
Many find time on the course calming. The open field, the cadence of going from the par 5 hole 9 to a more challenging par 4 hole 18, the conversation with other like-minded individuals. Golf can be a way to become more introspective as you work on improving your game, or more outwardly focused as you watch your competitors take their hacks. For Jesse, the repetitive nature of trying to perfect your game provides one more layer of tranquility in an otherwise hectic world.
For more information, visit woundedwarriorproject.org