While some associate golf with retirement and others think of it as a hobby that’s quite expensive, one thing is for sure: this sport is very difficult to master, and learning it can be quite a challenge. Learning how to perfectly hit the ball requires a lot of physical coordination, as well as plenty of concentration. This is why golf courses are so remote and have such a calm and relaxing atmosphere. However, there are over 55 million players in 206 countries around the world, which speaks volumes about the popularity of this great sport, despite the often frustrating nature of grasping only the basics.
Golf is a sport that’s suitable for people of all genders and ages, although the vast majority of players are men. According to the National Golf Foundation, in 2020, nearly 25 million individuals played golf on a golf course in the United States. There are approximately 15,500 golf courses throughout the country, with Florida ranking first as the state with the largest number. Veterans are one of the diverse and numerous demographics that play this sport, and they even have their own group, by the name of Veteran Golfers Association, which consists of over 9,100 members at the moment.
How Mark, a Navy Veteran, Discovered Golf as the Perfect Sport for Him
Mark, a 67-year-old man from New Orleans, Louisiana, who served as a pipefitter in the U.S. Navy between 1973 and 1989, is one of the myriads of veterans who now struggle with the aftermath of asbestos exposure. He was diagnosed with asbestosis, a very serious chronic lung disease, in the spring of 2002. When James, a fellow veteran and a victim of asbestos exposure himself, suggested playing golf to Mark in 2005 as a way to relieve his shortness of breath and chest pain, the idea sparked his interest right away. As a result, he began looking for golf courses in his area and found multiple in Lake Charles, a city very close to his home.
Naturally, the next step for the two veterans was learning as much as possible about the necessary golf equipment they had to purchase so as to begin playing. They first started looking for clubs, and each bought a driver, a 3-wood, a putter, a 5 iron, a wedge, a 7 iron, as well as a 9 iron, which are recommended for beginners. Furthermore, they made sure to have all the required club components, such as clubheads, shafts, and grips. Needless to say, Mark and James did not forget the tees and the golf balls. As for the golf bags, they opted for carrying bags, as they planned to move around the golf course exclusively by walking in order to get as much exercise as possible. Lastly, they invested in some good pairs of golf shoes, which are extremely important to both professional and beginner golfers.
Before embarking on this exciting adventure, which had already made Mark and James feel better mentally, they made the wise choice to take golf lessons to have a clear starting point in this journey. The duration of the golf lessons was about 6 months, at the end of which the veterans became decent players and were able to enjoy this rewarding sport by themselves. Both learned the basic golf techniques, such as the different types of shots, including approach shot, drive, chip, and pitch, how to practice and master their swing, but also more advanced tips, like holding the club from the side and not from underneath and ensuring that the clubface opens on the backswing.
Encouraging Other Sick Veterans to Try Golf
Having witnessed so many fellow veterans pass away due to the horrible diseases asbestos exposure causes, Mark and James came up with the idea of proposing veterans in poor health from his area join the two in playing golf. They thought that it would provide these brave people with the opportunity to connect with other veterans, as well as other golfers, have fun outdoors, and ease their symptoms. Consequently, Mark went on Facebook and got in touch with 4 other veterans from Louisiana who were willing to play golf with him and James.
Soon, the two began showing their new acquaintances how to play, and it wasn’t long before a strong bond formed between the six golf buddies. The time everyone invested in striving to learn how to play golf reasonably has definitely paid off, as every member of the new team has gone from using their short irons successfully to striking through their 5 irons impressively over the course of almost one year. Right now, the goal of the six golfer veterans, who still consider themselves beginners, is to master hitting a 7 iron 170 yards down the fairway.
As the years passed, the golf buddies did not even notice that they began forming a united, inseparable team whose members relied on the company of each other to make the burden of struggling with a serious disease less heavy. In addition to meeting up to play golf in Lake Charles, they soon began gathering for other outdoor group activities, such as barbecues, hiking, and fishing. What makes the story of Mark and his fellow veteran friends even more heartwarming is that, because they would show up at Lake Charles to play golf at least once a week, other regular golf players in the area noticed their team. This led to Mark and his golf buddies expanding their circle of friends and receiving emotional support from the healthy people as well, which is essential when you have to resign to your incurable disease.
About the Author
As a procurement clerk, Eddie Perry is responsible for mailing client correspondence, visiting incapacitated clients at their location to provide assistance with their paperwork, and taking care of supplies. He has been part of the legal team of Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. for over 18 years. The law firm specializes in toxic exposure cases and is located in Birmingham, Alabama.