A number of unsung PGA pros have been playing a small but important part in rehabilitating some of Britain’s injured servicemen through the PGA Golf Buddy Programme.
Around 50 pros are involved in the nationwide grass roots initiative which gives injured soldiers the opportunity to play golf and have free coaching in the heart of their community as they go about rebuilding their lives following life-changing injuries sustained in action.
A number of rehabilitation centres use golf as part of the recovery process including Surrey’s Headley Court and Wiltshire’s Tedworth House and the Golf Buddy programme is a community support-based facility.
Among the pros on the programme is Terry Gosden, the long-serving head PGA Professional at Tidworth Garrison Golf Club in Wiltshire, who works closely with nearby Tedworth House.
“Many of the soldiers have suffered terrible injuries but perhaps even more profound is the psychological damage,” said Gosden.
“This was brought home to me this year with one soldier who had some serious leg injuries from a roadside explosion and he explained that golf was the one thing that stopped him thinking about what happened to him in Afghanistan.
“As I got to know him through the lessons he explained how psychologically he was still struggling. He revealed how he had gone to a wedding and somebody had popped a balloon and he’d dived for cover under some chairs because he thought it was an explosion.”
Sarah Bennett from Three Rivers Golf and Country Club in Essex has thrown herself into the project and her efforts including creating an annual tournament for soldiers to play in.
“It’s about self confidence, self esteem, the setting of targets relative to their rehabilitation,” she said.
“And when we the run the competitions the competitive nature is soon brought out. At the end of the day, if someone wants to play, injured or otherwise, we are providing an opportunity to play in a competitive and fun environment. That’s my personal goal and it is amazing to see the impact golf can have.”
Dan Humble from Birchwood Park Golf Club in Kent echoed Bennett’s sentiments. “I taught a couple of soldiers and you can see how playing golf was helping them back into society. Many of them find it difficult to talk about what’s happened and golf is a route back.”
Pontypool Golf Club’s new head pro Ian Harrison, who is another to have given his time, added: “The soldier I’ve coached suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and I just try to make it a bit of fun and golf gives him something to concentrate on and take his mind off things.
“Giving up an hour of my time every couple of weeks is nothing and it’s rewarding to see him come along and thrash a few balls and get enjoyment out of golf.”
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones commented: “The PGA Golf Buddy programme is something that our members do quietly behind the scenes helping injured servicemen and women in the rehabilitation process.
“Not many are aware of what they do so we wanted to raise the profile a bit and reach out to any injured soldiers to say that we have this team of volunteer pros who are happy to give their time and expertise.
“As we’ve seen with these examples, golf can have tremendous benefits even for soldiers who have suffered really traumatic and life changing injuries.”
The full list of PGA Professionals on the PGA Golf Buddy programme is as follows:
Simon Williams (Belton Park GC); Matt Stables (South Essex GC); Jason Muller (Tudor Park); Graham Drabble (Romiley); Paul Barker (Vale G&CC); James Webster (Bracken Ghyll); Craig Thomas (The Golf Academy); Terry Gosden (Tidworth Garrison); Jon Woodroffe (World of Golf); Stephen Packer (Dorset G&CC); Gareth Bennett (Cottrell Park); Andy Beal (Salisbury & South Wilts); David Young (World of Golf, Sidcup); Tom Crozer (Deangate Ridge); Richard Beadles (Royal Worlington & Newmarket); Adrian Cave (Honiton); Sarah Bennett (Three Rivers G&CC); Parnell Reilly (Bradley Park); Joe Lippett (Burgley Park GC); Daniel Beaman (Mansfield Family Golf Centre); Robert Joyce (Felixstowe Ferry GC); Scott Shibley (Army GC); Paul McEvoy (Clitheroe); Paul Cook (Dachet); Daniel Humble (Birchwood Park); Paul Humpherson (Bingley St. Ives); Danny Bursztyn (Trent Lock Golf Centre); Adam Constable (Cardiff GC); Greg Brodie (Pine Ridge GC); Ian Harrison (Pontypool GC); Terry Gosden (Tidworth Garrison GC); James Smallacombe (Oake Manor GC); Brian Mudge (New Malton GC); Paul Johnson (Hagley GC); Paul Grotier (Essex G&CC); Neil Harvey (National Golf Centre); Derek Craik (Frilford Heath); Simon Shanks (Bowood GC); Lee Skidmore (Western Park GC); Alistair Halliday (Beadlow Manor GC); Steven Orr (Rustington Golf Centre); Jason Dolman (Allerton GC); Robert Watkins (Celtic Manor Resort); Richard Coffin (Vivary Park GC); Mark Squire (Ellesborough GC); Steve Thorne (Canford Magna); Kevin Jackson (Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club); Jon Barnes (Lee on Solent GC); Andrew Carr (Rhuddlan GC).
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