Golf pro Terry Gosden was among a group of PGA professionals who received special recognition at Headley Court for their part in coaching injured soldiers and helping rebuild their lives in the process.
Mr Gosden, who this year chalks up his 30th year as head PGA professional at Wiltshire’s Tidworth Garrison Golf Club, volunteered his time as part of the PGA Golf Buddy programme, which pairs up pros with soldiers many of whom have suffered life-changing and serious injuries while serving in Afghanistan.
The Golf Buddy initiative, which sprang out of the Battle Back project, has placed around 20 soldiers with PGA pros across the country with the aim of introducing them to golf as part of their rehabilitation.
It was in recognition of their contribution that the pros were invited to attend the Surrey base where they were given a tour of the defence medical rehabilitation centre and were also presented with plaques by Lt Col Tristan Crew, who is clinical development officer for the base.
Mr Gosden, who in addition to the Golf Buddy programme has worked with soldiers at Tedworth House at Tidworth, said: “I had a big group and a lot of them had mental as well as physical injuries with problems like lack of concentration and attention issues.
“I have been quite heavily involved in disabled coaching through the Wiltshire County Golf Partnership and this has been very rewarding, both because it is giving something back to soldiers who have given so much and also as a coach because it is completely different and you have to think outside of the box.”
Lt Col Crew said: “What the PGA pros are doing in the Golf Buddy programme is very special, it makes a massive difference to these soldiers.
“Sport is ideal for our guys, many of them who have been used to competing on the rugby and football field and the unique handicapping system of golf enables them to compete against their peers.
“More importantly they get a lot of self-esteem and confidence from playing golf.
“The support of the golf community has been vast with 230 golf clubs giving us free green fees while PING and Callaway have generously supported us with equipment.”
The PGA pros utilize their coaching skills to help soldiers overcome a range of physical disabilities with a new target for many of them of qualifying for the Captain Pietsch Trophy which sees injured British war veterans take on their American counterparts in what Lt Col Crew described as ‘their Ryder Cup’.
PGA captain Eddie Bullock, who attended the presentation, paid tribute to both the soldiers and work of the PGA members.
He added: “It has been very humbling to listen to some of the experiences of the soldiers at Headley Court.
“I was fortunate to represent the PGA during a trip to Afghanistan last year and the one thing I remember is being able to put a smile on faces because of the game of golf.
“I would like to thank all the PGA members involved in this programme. They have all done it quietly without any fuss and I’m sure their efforts are appreciated.”