Over the Labor Day weekend, I played 36 holes of golf. This is a lot for me in a single weekend. Michelle Wie I am not. I get bored after about the 10th hole.
On the Tuesday following Labor Day, for the second year in a row, I volunteered for the National Veterans TEE tournament, which provides legally blind and eligible disabled Veterans an opportunity to develop new skills and strengthen their self-esteem through adaptive golf and bowling events. As a “golf buddy,” I ride the course with the golfers and provide assistance to them as needed. Last year, I helped a lovely gentleman from Illinois who is a Korean War veteran. He reminded me of my dad. I helped him overcome his long-distance vision challenges by lining up his shots for him.
This year, my golfers didn’t need as much assistance. Therefore, I acted as an extra set of eyes to track their shots and locate their golf balls, which always seems challenging this time of year with so many leaves on the ground. I rode with a great group of golfers: Curtis, Katherine, Joanie, Mike, and Ben. Ben’s dad was also along for the ride, unable to participate due to his recent surgery. I was humbled and honored to be a part of this group. There were no complaints, no outbursts because of an errant shot, no throwing of clubs. As I rode along from hole to hole, I thought about my two days of golfing and all the little excuses and complaints I made. “I’m hungry.” “My side hurts from where I pulled it three weeks ago water skiing.” “My back is tightening up.” “The sun is getting hot.” What a whiner I was.
My golf crew packed a full day of fun into their 18 holes despite their challenges or physical limitations. By the end of the round, I could see the pain in some of their faces but all I heard was their appreciation for helping and their excitement in getting back on the course tomorrow.
Curtis, Katherine, Joanie, Mike, Ben, and Hank -- I will enjoy my next round of golf a little bit more thanks to you. You have inspired me in a way that you could not possibly know. My life is a little bit richer tonight for having met you. If I am lucky, our paths will cross again in the future. Thank you for the wonderful day and thank you for your service to our country.