Six soldiers from the U.S., U.K. and Canada walked onto The Duke's course at St. Andrews for something well beyond a round of golf. It was their first day in the Caddie School for Soldiers, a month-long program that includes instruction from two-time Scotland Caddie Master of the Year Davy Gilchrist and Master PGA professional David Scott, who serves as Kohler's Director of Golf and Estates in Leuchars.
The program is the brainchild of American author Don Snyder, who had the idea while caddying for his son on The Old Course at St. Andrews.
"I began to dream of training soldiers for this work that would take them to some of the most beautiful places in the world, where they could regain their belief in themselves by earning the trust of their golfers," Snyder said. "It seemed to me that this could be a life-changing and perhaps a life-saving experience for soldiers who were struggling to find their way back home from war."
He funded the program with money raised from private sources and received help from St.Andrews Legacy, a nonprofit organization that brings wounded soldiers to play golf in Scotland as part of the healing process. A second group of soldiers will make the trip to Scotland and enter the program in February 2020.
Several international organizations recommended the participants, who all live together in a large stone house and get seven hours of instruction per day. The sessions cover everything from theory to skills including how to help their golfers escape the perils of bunkers, remedy swing problems that produce wayward shots and thoughtfully plot their way around a golf course.
Kohler's involvement goes beyond hosting the soldiers at The Duke's and Scott's participation as an instructor. The company also provided clothing, featuring the Caddie School for Soldiers badge and Kohler logo, for caddies and support staff..
"It's simply amazing," Scott said. "These are tough, battle-hardened soldiers who may have physical scars and ailments, but all have seen the horrors of war firsthand. To see them really love and engage in the Caddie School and to know our company is supporting them is truly wonderful."
Follow along with the school on Twitter @CaddieSchoolVet.