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Wounded Warriors Get Back to the Links and Get Their Game On

Local Partnership Uses Golf to Help Disabled Veterans Transition Back

Golfsmith and COBRA Outfit Soldiers with Custom-Fit Clubs and Golf Gear

A group of DC-area soldiers recovering from injuries sustained during their tours of duty have a new transitioning pastime, the game of golf. Today seven veterans, members of Wounded Warrior Project™ (WWP), were outfitted by golf retailer Golfsmith and COBRA PUMA GOLF  at Golfsmith’s new Tysons Corner store.  Each had a full set of custom fit clubs built for them and received embroidered golf bags, and other golf gear to help them return to the sport they love. For others the donation program means they can learn a new sport as part of their transition back to civilian life. 

“Golf allows us all to socialize in an environment that relieves any outside tension or distractions, mainly because we are solely focused on getting the ball past the women’s tees,” said United States Marine Corps Sergeant Michael Wilson, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “In my transition, social rehabilitation is just as important as physical rehabilitation, due to emotional and mental stress on the battlefield. For me, golf provides a 360 degree approach that encompasses all aspects of life. It provides wounded warriors with a game to constantly build on in the future as well as an outlet for emotional and physical energy,” added Wilson. 

Sgt. Wilson (Annapolis, MD), injured by an IED explosion in Afghanistan suffered a traumatic brain injury, was joined by other Wounded Warrior Project alumni at the Golfsmith event. Each warrior battles with the physical and psychological challenges of war.

Regardless of the warriors’ challenges, whether mobility issues or emotional trauma, all hope to benefit from customized golf clubs or being “custom fit” to reflect their own golf swing. Golfsmith, the nation’s largest golf retailer, and COBRA PUMA GOLF outfitted the group with a full set of brand new COBRA S3 drivers, metal woods and irons as part of Wounded Warrior Project Physical Health & Wellness program.

Wounded warriors Russ Logan (Memphis, TN), Brendan Hart (New York, NY), Arthur Rizer (Alexandria, VA) Chad Ellinger (Staunton, VA), Adam Popp (Baltimore, MD), Patrick Murray (Arlington, VA) and Ryan Kules (Severna Park, MD) joined Wilson in receiving COBRA equipment.

“It is a pleasure to be a catalyst with our partners and COBRA PUMA GOLF to help give back to these modern day heroes and to share our passion for the game of golf.   Golf is a pastime for life, played by millions and Wounded Warrior Project is an inspirational organization for veterans with new societal challenges to get them back out on the golf course,” said Golfsmith President and CEO Marty Hanaka. “We’re pleased to say thanks to our country’s bravest and finest.”

“We are excited to bring the joy of golf into the lives of these veterans,” said Bob Philion, President of COBRA PUMA GOLF.  “We are honored to be a part of this program with Golfsmith and the Wounded Warrior Project to bring custom-fit product and most importantly, a passion for the game, into these men’s lives.”

The wounded warriors were each custom fit for their equipment. Custom fitting is the process where a Golfsmith club-fitting specialist uses computerized swing analysis to study every aspect of a player’s swing and then recommends the best types of clubs and the set-up of those clubs shaft flex, loft, lie and more. A newly released study of thousands of golfers found a majority of golfers in America are playing with clubs that do not fit them properly. (www.customfityourgame.com). The company traces its roots to making custom-fit clubs beginning in a house in New Jersey in 1967.  

WWP programs are uniquely structured to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. The Physical Health & Wellness programs of WWP optimize the physical and psychological well-being of warriors through comprehensive recreation and sports programs, physical health promotion strategies, and physical rehabilitation. Over 45,000 troops have been physically wounded during the current military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands more are estimated to be recovering from invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). WWP empowers warriors with the tools essential to not just survive their injuries but to thrive and achieve personal and professional success.

For Russ Logan (Air Force) of Memphis, Tennessee who served in Afghanistan before losing a leg, he must learn to live, walk and play golf with a prosthetic. “I walk on my prosthetic and I am doing physical therapy every day,” said Logan. “I golfed before I was hurt and it was something that I always loved to do but I thought I would never golf again. All the support I have been given helps me and allows me to do something that I never believed I would be able to do and for that I’m grateful.”

Golfsmith’s Tysons Corner store features more products and game-enhancing technology than any other area golf retailer in the area. Golfsmith is located at 8459 Leesburg Pike next to Best Buy in Vienna, VA. Golfsmith offers a comprehensive online store at www.golfsmith.com.  Metro DC residents can sign up for special offers and alerts on local store events by logging onto the up for “E-mail Offers” on the company’s web site.

For information on Wounded Warrior Project, please visit: woundedwarriorproject.org.