Professional golfer Tom Watson said he had always dreamed of jumping out of an airplane.
On Friday, the two-time Masters champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member got to do just that when he was dropped onto the Polo Field by the U.S. Army Parachute Team.
“I had no fear,” said Watson, who descended from 13,000 feet. “I wanted to freefall forever.”
His visit coincided with a fundraiser for the Troops First Foundation, which provides outreach and reintegration services for wounded warriors. In addition to jumping onto the Polo Field, Watson conducted a golf clinic as part of the 82nd Memorial Golf Scramble at Ryder Golf Course.
The scramble was a hole-in-one contest with about 100 participants and several prizes, said Cris Nunez, event organizer and a retired command sergeant major with the 82nd Airborne Division.
Jeff Saleeby, Layton Harrell and Scott Edwards, all businessmen, felt it was important to participate as a three-person team in the scramble.
“I love it. The military is a big part of the community,” Saleeby said.
While the men don’t possess Watson’s golf acumen, they were at least privy to some advice he doled.
Watson told golfers to watch both their balance and the position of their hands while swinging a golf club.
“Wherever that club head is, that’s how far you stand away from the ball,” he instructed.
To stop slicing the ball, a golfer should place their thumbs on top of the shaft, added Watson. The straighter the ball is hit, the farther it travels.
Watson is a true supporter of service members who continue to put themselves in harm’s way, said Thomas Capel, a retired command sergeant major and an affiliate of the Troops First Foundation.
The foundation’s co-founder, Rick Kell, said he first met Watson in 2007 when he tapped the golfer to travel to Iraq to visit troops as part of another organization with which Kell had been affiliated. Once Kell subsequently co-founded Troops First Foundation, he reached out to Watson to continue working with service members.
“We like to support the force anyway we can and the force has lots of good friends,” Kell said. “Tom Watson is one of them.”
For more information about golf programs offered by Fort Bragg, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/us/bragg/programs/stryker-golf-course or https://bragg.armymwr.com/us/bragg/programs/ryder-golf-course.