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Being injured in Iraq was my lemon. Golf is my lemonade.
I started swinging a golf club when I was a little under 3-years-old, but I wouldn’t fall in love with golf until my return from Iraq and the trials of warfare. While driving through a dangerous area south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded as my Humvee was passing – two pieces of shrapnel went through my lower protective body armour and into my back.
I would remain in Iraq for 8 months and, in April 2004, I returned from the deployment as a disabled soldier. My life was changed forever and the pain in my back would change my disposition on all of my abilities. Meanwhile, a few friends in my Unit decided that they wanted to buy new golf clubs and start playing golf (after returning from a deployment, our commanders allowed us a lot of free time to relax and recover from the stresses of life in war-time). My love for golf would grow but I was far from being a “golfer.” We played golf a good amount, but the pain in my back was often too much for me to endure and I started to play less and less until one day I decided I needed the money and I sold my golf clubs.
In September 2005, I would leave the Army and head back home to Austin, Texas to start my college career at Austin Community College. I had stopped playing golf and in fact, I had stopped being active all together. I used the pain in my back as an excuse to be lazy and I began to gain weight. With every added pound, the pain in my back would only increase. Three years passed and I went from being a 175-pound athletic person, to weighing 255 pounds and doing everything I could to resist any physical activity.
In 2008, I was accepted to Texas State University – this is where golf grabbed me and changed my life. A friend of mine named Raquel was working in the recreation department at Texas State and I had mentioned how I wanted to coach someday and she told me about a position through the REC department that would allow me to coach a Jr Golf Program. Raquel introduced me to the manager of the Texas State Golf Course who quickly decided to allow me to take over the program. Some of the perks of being an employee was being able to play the course for free and anytime I wanted.
My father then bought me a pushcart and I began to walk the course and as a result, I began to change my disposition on my abilities as a golfer and as person again. However, nearly a year into working at the REC program, adversity struck again. My entire golf bag was stolen with all my golf clubs and a bag of golf attire (I was heading back to Austin for the weekend and planning on doing some laundry at my parents house). It was a setback for sure, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me.
Golf didn’t just help me lose weight and be more active; it allowed me to understand the world again. Golf showed me that I could still be competitive, that I could set goals and achieve those goals. The lessons I learned on the fairways transferred to my life. I have now lost the weight that I have struggled with over the years to lose; I have gained strength in my back, legs and shoulders. My back will always be a problem for me but now I know I can work through the pain and still do what I love to do.
In May 2011, I graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos and recently moved out to San Angelo Texas where I started working for Bentwood Country Club as the Head Coach for the Jr High School Golf program. I eventually want to become a PGA Teaching Pro. I moved out to West Texas with my fiancé who has been my biggest supporter and I could not have done it without her and now she’s my wife. I’m teaching U.S. History at Central High School and hope to take over as Head Golf Coach if the position becomes available.
Quite simply, golf saved my life. It showed me that I could do anything if I practiced and worked hard. I want to spend my life sharing my passion for golf and showing how golf is more than just a game but a way of life and a strength I take deep pride in. Being injured in Iraq was my lemon and playing golf will always be my lemonade.