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PGA Golf Buddies helping veterans’ rehab

Several 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 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 (pictured), the long-serving head PGA professional at Tidworth Garrison Golf Club in Wiltshire, who works closely with nearby Tedworth House.

Gosden said, “Many of the soldiers have suffered terrible injuries but perhaps even more profound is the psychological damage. 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 include 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.”

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.”