Australian and British veterans compete for the Clyde Pearce Cup at Melbourne’s top golf courses


Australian and British veterans will play on some of Melbourne’s most prestigious golf courses in a tournament involving men who have overcome traumatic injuries.

Ten golfers from each country with different skill levels and handicaps will participate in the three-day event hosted by a charity.

They are in contention for the first-ever Clyde Pearce Cup, which is named after an Australian amateur golfer killed in World War I.

One of the contestants is retired Corporal Louis Smit, who was struck by an enemy grenade explosion while serving in Afghanistan and resulted in the amputation of one of his legs.

He said the British Army‘s Battle Back golf program had helped him adjust to life at home.

“When you leave the service, service is your primary focus in life and when it is taken away from you you are really left dry,” Corporal Smit said.

“Golf has filled that gap pretty well for me and given me new life.”

The British will face an Australian team supported by the charity Mates4Mates.

Australian parachutist Curtis McGrath, 27, is currently training for the Paralympic Games in Rio, but has taken time off to compete in the tournament.

Sapper McGrath, whose legs were blown away by a bomb in Afghanistan, said he just wanted to improve his game.

“We have guys there with low disabilities and it should be good to make friends too,” he said.

“I think that’s the main point.”

Golf allows vets to be competitive, improve their self-esteem

This is the first time that the British Army golf program has been played in Australia.

But its players regularly participate in tournaments in America, with other events being held across Europe.

Battle Back Golf President Col. Tristan Crew said the sport is ideal for injured veterans, with strollers making it easy to get around.

“It’s a game they can play for the rest of their life, but most importantly, the handicap system allows them to be competitive at all levels,” he said.

“It’s completely settled for them.”

Colonel Crew said the sport not only had a physical benefit, but was found to be therapeutic.

“I’ve always been very focused on the physical attributes of swinging a club when your balance is compromised,” he said.

“But arguably the most beneficial part is the psychological benefits – the improvements in self-esteem, the confidence you gain by seeing a gradual improvement in your ability to perform.

“But more than that, it’s about bringing together a group of people with the same issues.”


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