How golf saved a veterans life

Phil Briggs
October 22, 2018 - 12:21 pm

Schumacher

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Golf is like life.  Ask any golfer and they’ll agree.

It’s accurately summed up in a famous quote by golf pioneer, Bobby Jones, “You get bad breaks from good shots, good breaks from bad shots, but you have to play the ball where it lies.”

For Army veteran Jack Schumacher, golf does more than resemble life’s journey, it changed it.

Before discovering golf, Schumacher was a Staff Sergeant in the Army. While on patrol in the spring of 2009, his unit became engaged in a fierce firefight in southeast Afghanistan.  An RPG round blasted his vehicle and the explosion cost Schumacher his right leg.

Schumacher

Months later he was recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “It was a quiet Saturday at Walter Reed when I had a buddy come up to my hospital room and say, ‘put some clothes on, we’re goin’ to play golf’,” recalled Schumacher. “I wasn’t really that interested in golf, but figured I’d give it a try.”

The clinic, held each Saturday at a course near Walter Reed in Olney, MD was hosted by the Salute to Military Golf Associaton. And it was on that course where Schumacher explained how his life was changed forever.  “ I got one look at a fellow veteran, Ramon Padilla, a veteran amputee missing part of his left arm, and when I saw his swing it was the most beautiful and impressive thing I had ever seen. “ 

After getting to know Padilla's story, he says golf became a source of inspiration that would drive him to get out of his hospital room and strive to achieve new goals.

“Golf became secondary to getting to know other vets and hearing their stories,” Schumacher said.  “And there’s no place better to do that than on a golf course.”

The months turned into years, and Schumacher’s passing interest in golf turned into a passion.  “Golf has become something inextricably linked to my life … It really set the standard, not just for my initial recovery, but for everything I want to achieve in life,” said Schumacher.

By Joshua McKerrow, Capital Gazette

And Schumacher’s life has been full of achievements.  Since retiring from the military in 2011, Schumacher has played 18 holes on golf’s most hallowed ground, Scotland’s The Old Course, competed in the Warrior Open hosted by former President George W. Bush, graduated from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and currently works in management for sports apparel giant Under Armour in their Global Operation Department.

Schumacher

Above: President George W Bush congratulates Schumacher during the Warrior Open.

But despite all his accomplishments, it’s the simple moments on the links with the veterans of Salute to Military Golf Association that continue to guide his life.

“The game of golf always gives me a wider perspective on life … the goal is always to play as well as I can.  Sometimes I’m in the middle of a fairway, sometimes I’m in the center of a bunker and it looks pretty grim, as far as saving par.  But I kinda like those moments where you veer off the path,” said Schumacher. “You may be shaking you’re head saying, ‘How the hell am I goona' get out of this?’ But what I’ve learned from golf and my fellow veterans is that, regardless of where you are on the golf course or in life, as long as you’ve got some breath left in your lungs, and spirit pumping through your body, you can get wherever you need to go.”

Salute to Military Golf hosts clinics and events nationwide. 

To find out more about their programs and how to golf with other veterans click here.

Schumacher

Above: Schumacher gets a presidential fist bump.

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