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What is Battle Back Golf?

Founded at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in 2009, the Battle Back Golf programme is a military initiative, designed to utilise the sport to support the wounded, injured and sick. Over the years the programme has proved successful in supplementing the physical, psychological and cognitive rehabilitation of over 200 serving and veteran personnel.

Geraldine McCool recently picked up her clubs and headed onto the greens for a golfing trip with one of her heroes.

Fresh from a recent victory at Celtic Manor, Major Bernie Broad challenged me to a round of Battle Back Golf and a chat around the course. My golfing skills may not have been up to par but the conversation certainly was.

A major inspiration Bernie Broad is a former Major in the Grenadier Guards, which he joined in 1982 when he was just 16 years old. The Falkland’s conflict was ending and he spent time in Chelsea Barracks and in Northern Ireland. He climbed the ranks to Captain and it was on duty in Afghanistan in 2009 that he was caught up in a bomb blast.

After four years of surgery Bernie lost his left leg and was originally against the second ‘elective’ amputation. Both medics and his family were in no doubt that this was the way forward, but deciding to have the operation was a difficult decision for Bernie. This was an interesting discussion point during the day as it’s something our military team have dealt with recently, with a number of our clients facing amputations many years after an injury.

A great sport

In-between the tee shots and short putts Bernie explained his passion for using golf to enhance the recovery of service personnel and the positive rehabilitative and social benefits it provides. As a double below knee amputee, Bernie uses sport as a key role in his rehabilitation and in 2017 he was selected as captain of Team UK at the Invictus Games in Toronto. Although he spoke about it in his own unassuming way the truth is he led the team by example. He won a silver medal in the wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball and recorded a top five finish in the golf. He also competed in the pool, where he smashed his personal goal of swimming without his stumps sinking.

His philosophy of ‘giving sport your best shot and enjoying every moment’ chimes with our Don’t Quit, Do It campaign, which aims to get more disabled people taking part in disability sport.

What struck me most from sharing the buggy with Bernie was the great role model he is, always finding time to speak to all sorts of different people about living with prosthetics, his passion for sport and of course life in the military.

Why Battle Back Golf is great

Physical benefits

The majority of Battle Back golfers have ambulatory problems and the uneven terrain of golf courses assists in developing strength, coordination and stamina.

Psychological benefits

The cognitive requirements of keeping score and planning a route around the course along with the confidence and self-esteem benefits of achieving a goal related task are clear.

To find out more please visit battlebackgolf.com

Published: April 2019

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Spring 2019

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Geraldine McCool

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