Sign up to The American magazine's newsletters (below) to receive more regular news, articles and updates on America in the UK.
The Simpson Cup 2018 – Team USA – Shawn Whitmore
American Golfer Shawn Whitmore 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?
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
How did you become involved with the On Course Foundation, and the upcoming Simpson Cup?
I was approached about the Simpson Cup in 2013 to qualify at Dataw Island for the 2014 Simpson Cup at Congressional Country Club. I attended the PNC Father Son tournament and enjoyed being around fellow wounded veterans. I was about to transition out of the Army and I was looking for employment in the golf industry and I was also still recovering from my injuries. On Course found me at my lowest point and offered me an escape from my daily depression.
What does being involved in the organization mean to you, and how has it helped you personally?
Being a part of the organization has changed my life. I was at a low point not knowing what tomorrow was going to bring after the Army and I had a young family to support as well as years of recovery to undertake. When I was introduced to On Course I was unsure about the possibilities of an organization that would help me gain employment but also teach me golf and life after injury skills. The organization is my family's and my salvation and sense of pride. It has allowed me to be my best self for my family and in my golf employment.
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?
The Simpson Cup has always been the "Super Bowl" of our organization and the end of the portion of our recoveries where we are being carried to, now we can carry others. Being around other wounded veterans is the only true healing many of us will relate to when we lose that sense of purpose of being on a team and making a difference for our country because of our injuries, the Simpson Cup gives that back to us. The Simpson Cup has changed my life long goals and sense of purpose for the future.
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?
Yes I played golf prior to the military. I was actually in the PGA Program becoming a Class A member when I decided to join the military to serve my country. Being able to play at a higher level both before the military and during my military career prior to injury has been a blessing and a curse. I know that I can play well but after my injuries the swing and the body have changed so I have had to relearn how to play. Golf is the only sport where I can still compete at a high level using the handicap system against able bodied persons.
How has your golf improved since getting involved with the On Course Foundation?
My game has improved because of the top professionals who dedicate their time and effort into helping not just our team but the UK team as well. On Course helped give me the strength to enroll in the Golf Academy of America where I have found fellow Veterans to play golf with and the unbelievable technology to help train us while we are there. It also allowed me to become certified to teach others and knowing how to teach others with injuries has been very beneficial for me.
What makes Golf an ideal sport for recovering service personnel?
Golf is you against the course. The ball does not care who you are or what you have or have not done in your life. It doesn’t care if you're injured or if you can hit it far or short. It’s just your mind and body against the course and all that it can throw at you. You determine the outcome based on your experience and abilities. If you want to do better you practice harder and concentrate more. Recovering is never easy and neither is golf. The two are the same in the fact that you get out of your recovery what you put in just like playing good golf. You have to put the time in.
Is it important to you that disabled golfers can play against able bodied ones on an equal basis?
It is very important. In so many sports we compete and yet we cant compete with those who are not disabled on a level playing field. Golf was based off traditions of every person can compete no matter what their skill and still have a formidable challenge in the game to win.
How does it feel to be representing the USA ahead of the Simpson Cup on home soil?
When you are injured and removed from the team environment of the Armed Services you miss it. None of us chose this but it happened, and when we are given a chance to represent our country we will do everything we can to accomplish it. I was the Captain at Birkdale and it was an experience I will never trade but being at home is going to be exciting. We all want to win and we all want to do it at home.
The Simpson Cup is a Transtlantic competition pitting the USA against the UK. Have you served alongside British forces before?
In Afghanistan I served with a few small groups but not for any long duration. They are just like us in they will do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission and whatever it takes to take care of the person on their left and right.
How intense will the competition be for the Simpson Cup?
The competition is always fierce at the Simpson Cup. We all want to win because that’s what we do. We all want that cup. When we are on the course competing we all feel we can take on the world just like the PGA Tour guys. At the end of the day we are all still friends with lasting memories and memorable shots.
What aspect of being involved in the foundation and The Simpson Cup are you most proud of?
Helping find employment for so many Veterans and then coaching them into prospective leads. It has always been about helping the organization grow to reach more and more Veterans with the purpose of eventually we will all be able to give back. The fact that we have great sponsors, venues, staff, and of course members is the reason we are the best organization in my eyes.
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!
>> MORE SPORTS