The World of Golf, St Augustine, Florida is famed for recognising the heroes of golf in their Hall of Fame; now the venue prepared itself for a different brand of hero. The term “putting your body on the line” has long become a sporting cliché however the teams that assembled at the Slammer and Squire Course on 11 Sep 2013 have had their lives defined by personal sacrifice.
Ten golfers from the British Military’s Battle Back initiative traversed the Atlantic to defend the Capt Pietsch Trophy from a team of golfers from the Wounded Warrior Project. This was the third time the teams had met, in the history of the competition, with the standings at one a piece.
Battle Back were the current holders of the trophy after a thrilling encounter at Burhill Golf Club, Surrey in Sep 2012.
The Battle Back team’s preparation could not have gone better. Confidence was high following many successes throughout the year most notably the team’s maiden victory in the annual fixture against golfers convened from the golfing industry at the Shropshire Golf Course, one month prior to departure.
After a couple of practice rounds the 3-day tournament started, significantly and appropriately on 9/11, with the four ball format. A format familiar to the Battle Back team they made short shrift of their US contemporaries taking the first day 4-1.
Day two saw the teams compete in Greensomes. Battle Back were wary of this format having been dismissed 5-0 on the second day in the inaugural Capt Pietsch Trophy at TPC San Antonio. Chf Tech Keith Davies however was to display masterly captaincy selecting the perfect pairings to ensure that Battle Back would be unbeaten on day two posting a 4½ – ½ scoreline.
With an 8½ – 1½ lead the Battle Back team just needed 1½ points to retain the trophy. The final day (singles matchplay) saw the Wounded Warrior team post three of the first four points on the board however Maj Bernie Broad held his nerve and sealed the winning putt.
The final day was won again by Battle Back 6-4 which set the overall final score at 14½ – 5½.
“A fantastic performance, the team are obviously delighted” said the Captain Chf Tech Keith Davies “however the sights are now set on developing new talent and practicing for the return fixture which is to be held Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey in Sep 2014.”
“To post this kind of victory” said Lt Col Tristan Crew “is credit to the commitment and professionalism of this team of golfers, I am very proud of want they have achieved here and throughout the year”. He continued “Events such as these do not happen without significant support. We are indebted to the Wounded Warrior Project for organising a great tournament and we look forward to reciprocating their hospitality when the return to Walton Heath next year. Most importantly however we are indebted to the The Endeavour Fund (part of the Royal Foundation) and Help for Heroes for providing the financial backing. Their contribution has significantly enriched the lives of the 20 competitors and served to inspire the other 128 Battle Back golfers.”