Golf equipment company honors wounded war veterans

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

I, like many of you, get loads of e-mails every day. Some are junk mail, while others are jokes or cute stories from well-meaning family and friends. I get press releases from different entities about all sorts of events. Occasionally, I even get something that really makes me stop what I’m doing and take notice. One such e-mail arrived this week.

This is what was in the subject line and caught my eye immediately: We think this is something that all golfers should be aware of. I think all Americans should be aware of this also.

This isn’t a joke or cartoon; just something interesting to know…you may want to forward this on to others.

On Monday, I played the Disney, Lake Buena Vista course. As usual, the starters matched me with three other players. After a few holes, we began to get to know each other a bit. One fellow was rather young and had his wife riding along in the golf cart with him. I noticed that his golf bag had his name on it and after closer inspection, it also said “wounded war veterans.” When I had my first chance to chat with him, I asked him about the bag. His response was simply that it was a gift. I then asked if he was wounded, and he said yes. When I asked more about his injury, his response was “I’d rather not talk about it, sir.”

Over a few holes, I learned that he had spent the last 15 months in an Army rehabilitation hospital in San Antonio, Texas. His wife moved there to be with him, and he was released from the hospital in September. He was a rather quiet fellow; however, he did say that he wanted to get good at golf. We had a nice round, and as we became a bit more familiar, I asked him about the a brand-new set of PING woods and irons he was playing. Some looked like they had never been hit. His response was simple. He said that this round was the first full round he had played with these clubs.

Later in the round, he told me the following. As part of the discharge process from the rehabilitation hospital, PING comes in and provides three days of golf instruction, followed by club fitting. Upon discharge from the hospital, PING gives each of the discharged veterans, generally about 40 soldiers, a brand-new set of custom-fitted clubs along with the impressive golf bags.

The fellow I met was named Ben Woods, and he looked me in the eye and said that being fitted for those clubs was one of the best things that ever happened to him, and he was determined to learn to play golf well enough to deserve the gift PING had given him. Ben is now out of the service, medically discharged just a month ago. He is as fine a young man as you would ever want to meet.

PING has the good judgment not to advertise this program. God Bless America and the game of golf.

The person who sent me this said he verified it with and

When I bought the current set of PING golf clubs that I have, I thought I paid entirely too much for them. Now that I’ve read this story, I realize they are worth every penny and, in fact, I got a helluva bargain!

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the June 22-28 issue

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