|B.J. Jackson and Major Ed Pulido at Ballybunion Golf Club, Ireland|
Journalists Tom Harack, Peter Kessler, and Jeff Wallach are traveling in Ireland with the veterans, playing some of the world’s leading links courses and experiencing for themselves the healing powers of golf.
The wounded warriors’ stories are as harrowing as they are inspirational. Chad Pfeifer is a 31-year-old soldier who lost his left leg when an IED blew up his Humvee in Iraq. After spending 14 months in the hospital, he has rehabilitated to the point that, despite a prosthetic leg, he’s become the Armed Forces golf champion and plays off scratch (0 handicap).
Major Ed Pulido, who lost a leg in a land mine explosion in Afghanistan, sees the trip through Ireland as an opportunity to tell the inspirational stories of wounded U.S. soldiers, and to raise awareness of the challenges they face. “Golf, and other sporting and social interests, helps in the healing process. But the warriors and their families are still grappling with very real and very big problems. We are talking about soldiers who have lost their eyesight, hands, arms, or legs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, or who are suffering traumatic brain injuries or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“But despite their injuries, all these soldiers are totally inspirational and positive beyond belief ,” Major Pulido says.
The journalists on the trip will write about their experiences traveling and playing golf with the wounded warriors for a variety of print publications and for The A Position.com.
The trip is sponsored by Golf Digest Irish Tours, a new, upscale, golf-travel company arranging itineraries that include the likes of Ballybunion, Tralee, Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, and other top courses . The tour company has partnered with the courses and a collection of the country’s finest hotels to offer the soldiers 12 days of R&R, fully hosted through the hospitality of the Irish people.
Linton Walsh, CEO of Golf Digest Irish Tours, says, ”I realized that a golf trip to some of the most spectacular courses in the world would not only showcase Ireland and its warm and welcoming people, but would also highlight the game of golf as inclusive regardless of age, ability, or disability, as in this case.”