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The Simpson Cup 2018 – Team USA – Alex Happer
American Golfer Alex Happer tells us about the On Course Foundation and taking part in the US v UK Tournament for injured servicemen and veterans
Thank you for talking to The American magazine about the On Course Foundation and the upcoming Simpson Cup. First of all, can you tell us where in the States you're from?
Well I was born on Long Island, NY, was raised in Raleigh, NC, stationed in Fort Stewart, GA, and in the process of transitioning down to Florida to work at Doral. I’m just an east coaster really.
How did you become involved with the On Course Foundation, and the upcoming Simpson Cup?
While I was attending The Golf Academy Of America in Myrtle Beach SC, I crossed paths with Mr Shawn Whitmore, a national programs coordinator for the On Course Foundation. His mentorship and friendship were solidified pretty quickly and the next thing I knew he extended to me the invitation to the Simpson Cup qualifier. I fortunately got myself into a playoff after shooting 2 under on the Cotton Dike course on my second and final round, barely squeezing my way into team USA.
What does being involved in the organization mean to you, and how has it helped you personally?
Being a part of such a noble and worthy cause is very humbling. It has given me a great deal of confidence in myself, as well as the new support channel that comes with being a part of such a great organization. Being so young, and yet so well supported and connected has really helped seperate myself from my peers.
With awareness of the needs of veterans and servicemen and women always growing, how does it feel to be part of a competition which both raises awareness as well as offers an opportunity for veterans to compete?
In my opinion, the Simpson Cup should be/continue to be the golden standard for the wounded/disabled veteran community. Although I’m a part of a few other veteran golf organizations, the level of recognition, support, and competitive spirit of the Simpson Cup is unparalleled. Getting as much recognition and publicity for such an event is critical to getting more and more people both involved and aware of what we can offer.
Had you played Golf before your participation in the On Course Foundation? If not, how has the sport changed your life, and if you have, how is it different for you now?
I have been an avid and accomplished golfer my entire life. I left college scholarships on the table to go join the Army, and am pursuing a career as a golf professional, and potentially a playing professional. Yet, being a Simpson Cup Team Member is at the top of my accolades. It is such a tremendous event, with tremendous individuals doing amazing things for the individuals of both nations that rightfully deserve it.
How has your golf improved since getting involved with the On Course Foundation?
In regards to my actual golf game, getting ready for the Cup has certainly provided me more tenacity in my training/preparation. I’ve always been an advocate for competition as I believe competition breeds excellence, but being on a team to represent my country in an international event is taking my game to another level.
What makes Golf an ideal sport for recovering service personnel?
Golf provides more opportunities for persons of all ages and physical abilities to compete on a level playing field than any other sport. As a sport we have rules and governing bodies to ensure just that. It is a game of integrity, equity, and it’s just simply hard to find in a sport as fun and challenging as golf. When I was going through tough times after my deployment and later separation from service, golf was the only thing in my life that was EXACTLY the same as it was in my pre deployment life. It is just as fun, just as fair, and just as challenging as I can remember and that won’t change anytime soon.
Is it important to you that disabled golfers can play against able bodied ones on an equal basis?
This is golf's true niche. As a scratch golfer, I can fly across the country and play against a double leg amputee in a completely level playing field. Golf's fairness is not limited to physical ability, age, etc. it is determined by your current skill set. There is no seperate handicap system for able bodied golfers and disabled golfers. Everyone plays their own equally challenging, and equally fair game.
How does it feel to be representing the USA ahead of the Simpson Cup on home soil?
This is a big one. Being 23 years old, and having the opportunity to represent the United States and our wounded/disabled veteran community is among the top honors of my lifetime. Furthermore, having the ability to do so in my home country, and home state will make it all the more special. I personally couldn’t have drawn up a better time and place to participate in my first Simpson Cup.
The Simpson Cup is a Transtlantic competition pitting the USA against the UK. Have you served alongside British forces before?
I unfortunately have not had the pleasure of serving alongside our British counterparts. But as always I have the utmost respect for anyone that bears a burden as large as ours. I don’t foresee anything getting in the way of me establishing a great and lasting friendship with Team GB.
How intense will the competition be for the Simpson Cup?
The level of competition is almost unfathomable. You're putting 13 American alpha males and 13 British alpha males and trying to determine who is the best ... the fact that it’s a competition of golf is almost irrelevant - haha. However, no level of competition will ever compromise the immense amount of respect that I have for every individual in the organization. Be it competitors, sponsors, coaches etc, American or British, you can count on there being nothing but respect from this young Infantryman.
What aspect of being involved in the foundation and The Simpson Cup are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve created as well as the pedigree of people I get to associate with. Being this young, it would be nearly impossible to associate with such great people if it weren’t for me being in the situation and organization that I’m in.
The 2018 Edition of The Simpson Cup takes place at The Maidstone Club in East Hampton, New York between September 23 and 26. Find out more about the Cup and keep to date with results via their website, www.simpsoncup.com. You can find out more about the On Course Foundation via www.oncoursefoundation.com. Good luck Team USA!
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