Injured Soldiers Battle Through
A team of injured soldiers from the UK armed forces emerged victorious in a Ryder Cup style match against opponents from Australia staged at the Celtic Manor Resort.
After two days of close competition in greensomes and fourball formats, a dominant display in the final day singles saw the Battle Back Golf team eventually claim a comprehensive victory against their opponents from the Soldier On Foundation to retain the Clyde Pearce Trophy.
Team captain Bernie Broad was also the skipper for the entire team that represented the UK at the 2017 Invictus Games in Canada, where he competed in swimming, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball as well as golf. A retired Major, Broad lost both legs below the knee after an improvised explosive device detonated and blew him out of a military vehicle in Afghanistan in 2009.
He said: “I’m so proud of the team for being able to raise their game under intense pressure from a very able Australian side. They dug deep to pull out victory on a very difficult golf course.
“We’ve enjoyed great camaraderie, as well as great competition, with a fantastic group of people who we have so much in common with, and at a fabulous venue here at Celtic Manor who have looked after us so well from the moment we arrived.
“Golf is such a brilliant game for rehabilitation and it certainly helped me to turn my life around again after my injuries. I was in a dark place – I had lost a lot of my integrity and respect and I was sucking the life out of others but golf gave me something to look forward to.
“You look forward to the next shot, you meet a lot of great people in this game and everyone is very encouraging. The handicap system means I can play against anyone and give them a run for their money.”
The Battle Back team were managed and coached by RAF physical instructors, Flight Sergeant Dave Iliffe and Flight Sergeant John Mills.
“It’s been a successful week for both teams and the match has been played in the true spirit of both Battle Back and Soldier On,” said Iliffe.
“As serving members of the military, they thrived on discipline and working together as a team. Their injuries meant most of these players had to leave the military not through their own will, so a competition like this gives them something back in terms of the team spirit and the discipline they need to show in their play and course management and focus.”
Mills added: “It’s really rewarding for us to see these guys away from the day to day rehabilitation environment and out in the field of competition. It’s great to see the progress they have made. Sport and events like this are so important from both a psychological and a physiological perspective.”
The visiting golfers from both sides warmed up with a round on the Roman Road Course with Celtic Manor members before playing the three days of competition over the Twenty Ten and Montgomerie layouts.