Updated 06/21/2012 08:43 PM
Wounded Warriors healing with golf
For many who take it up, golf can be a frustrating game. But near Fort Drum, a group of soldiers who've experienced the stress of war are picking up the clubs to get away from frustration. As our Brian Dwyer reports, one North Country woman is going above and beyond to help them.
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. -- Mary Lawrence's job, as the head golf coach for both the men's and women's teams at St. Lawrence University, keeps her pretty busy. But every Thursday morning, without fail, she gets in her car and drives more than an hour to meet up with these guys.
Lawrence volunteers with the Salute Military Golf Association, teaching clinics at Highland Meadows Golf Course to some of Fort Drum's wounded soldiers.
"I drive down and I leave with this renewed enthusiasm for how lucky we are and how these young men go out and protect us," Lawrence said.
And these guys, all with Fort Drum's Warrior Transition Unit, would say the same about Lawrence. She's helping them: Every swing, every putt. They think about the shot. The game and they're not thinking about what happened or the grind of their recovery.
"When I'm out there playing, I just forget about everything and all my stresses. I'm just concentrating on the next shot," said SSG Andrew Montgomery.
"For me, personally, it helps with the healing process. It helps us heal. It helps us continue to stay in the fight and connect with fellow wounded warriors," said Sgt. Anthony Stephens.
And we often hear about the military and camaraderie. The importance of having people, friends who understand. Golf has become that perfect example here.
"I believe each and every one of us have our own experiences of what we're going through, dealing with everyday. It's a time where we can collectively come together. The camaraderie and share some of our experiences," Stephens said.
Montgomery said, "I was in football. I had a couple of scholarship offers. I decided to join the Army instead and ended up getting wounded in Afghanistan. I can't play contact sports anymore."
And golf has become such a major part of Montgomery's life, after the military, he wants to make a career out of it.
"I'm actually trying to go to the Golf Academy in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina," Montgomery said.
And maybe without even knowing it, Lawrence is helping him get there.
"I was basically teaching myself up to this point. I got the opportunity to work with her and she's an awesome teacher. She's definitely developed my game," Montgomery said.
Her advice: Hard work. Something Montgomery and all these guys know all about.
Some of these golfers will get their first big test Saturday as the SMGA hosts a tournament at Highland Meadows.