More than 15 injured personnel are poised to do battle over the fairways and greens in the inaugural Golf Fore Recovery Tournament.
Troops from the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Chavasse VC House, based in Colchester, will compete in the event on Tuesday 12 August. It is the brainchild of PGA head teaching professional and England Golf East regional U18 coach Sarah Bennett.
Bennett has spent four years working with wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans, coaching golf and interacting to assist with their recovery.
The tournament, which was has been her mission for three years, is being held at Three Rivers Golf & Country Club which has been supportive of her three events already this season.
She arranged her first event for the residents at Chavasse VC House more than two years ago, raising enough to fund the initial Huxley Golf putting mat for the recovery centre’s grounds.
The introduction of golf has proven to be immensely popular among the residents because of its accessibility, sense of achievement and structured activities.
As the popularity has grown, so too have the facilities and the recovery centre now showcases a six-hole, two-net Huxley Golf putting green which is utilised during regular coaching visits.
Bennett, a former Ladies European Tour player, is a strong supporter of Help for Heroes having also taken part in a number of the charity’s fundraising events including the Hero Ride, Colossal Cake Sale, and the Bear BQ.
But it is her efforts with coaching golf that have made a real difference since initially linking up with the barracks in Colchester prior to the work she carried out for the PGA Golf Buddy programme.
Three years on and she is looking forward to her Golf Fore Recovery event, which will feature veterans and serving personnel representing all the Armed Forces and three of the Help for Heroes Recovery Centres across the country including Catterick, Colchester and Tidworth.
Sarah said: “It is four years since I first had a meeting with the barracks and each year I have introduced a series of varying activities which have progressed, this has always been a long term vision of mine.
“I introduced the residents to golf and explained how it could help with their recovery. Golf brings out the competitive nature and determination but it can also ignite a spark that is sometimes hidden while the traumas are still very raw.
“I really look forward to presenting the trophy on an annual basis and hope to see the numbers of our heroes participating grow each year. I look forward to continuing with my work with further events planned for those who love the game.”
Bennett herself has overcome serious setbacks as she was diagnosed in 2005 with a serious neurological condition that affected her balance. It was this that gave her the determination and passion to assist others who love the game too.
Steve Schollar, centre manager, said: “I am really grateful to Sarah for her dedication to supporting our wounded through her golfing skills and experience, and this has directly benefitted so many of our guys as they work through their individual recovery programmes.
“I wish the first Golf Fore Recovery Tournament the very best of luck and may the best team win!”