Finding God's Winning Spirit


May 11, 2015 | Greg Smith | Christianity


A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with Tom and Kathy Underdown (real salt of the earth people) who founded Fairway for Warriors in 2010.  They started Fairway for Warriors ( in 2010 with the goal of using golf as a way to impact the lives of combat veterans – boy have they ever.  

 Fairways for Warriors gives these brave men and women the opportunity to heal from their most significant injuries, many of which we can’t see such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and others. They simply use golf to help wounded veterans begin the process of overcoming the obstacles associated with their military combat-related disabilities.

Fairways for Warriors uses golf to improve hand-eye coordination; increase functional independence, balance, motor skills/ flexibility, etc., all of which reduce the risk of secondary medical complications. Golf provides these vets with the social network that they need and the comradery that they once had with their brothers and sisters in arms. Their golf clinics include wives and children to help re-establish family time. Golf simply provides these veterans with the opportunity to once again excel and meet a challenge – the hallmark of any good solider. 

Why is Fairways for Warriors so important? Let’s look at some statistics. Every 65 minutes in this country a veteran commits suicide. Take the Vietnam War for instance – 2.7 million soldiers fought in Vietnam and over 58,000 soldiers were killed. What is shocking is that since then over 150,000 Vietnam survivors have committed suicide – a 3/1 ratio! Obviously for many the war has not ended.

Here is what’s mind blowing – we sent 2.7 million soldiers to Vietnam and have had 150,000 suicides. To date, we have deployed 2.5 million soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan; we better stand by for the results of these wars.  The VA has been reported as having over 10,000 new mental health requests a month from these two wars and we are not done yet (By the way – many of the veterans I talked to do not expect much from the VA and even say trying to get services there make them feel more isolated and de-valued).

Upon Tom and Kathy’s invitation I spent most of last week in Orlando with Fairways for Warriors. It was a humbling, sobering but most of all inspirational four days. I learned a lot – a lot about life, a lot about faith, a lot about courage and a lot about myself.  I would have to say of all the things I saw and experienced one thing sticks in my mind even today. Here is what that is.

We played golf Friday (there's a lot of golf playing – you gotta love that) and Tom put me in a group with three veterans. One of these men was missing his left arm (Jack), one had a prosthetic leg (Steve) and my cart partner Patrick was missing his right leg altogether. It is hard to remember when I've enjoyed 18 holes as much as I did with these guys. I was impressed with Patrick's attitude about the game in lieu of his handicap. I eventually mustered up the courage to ask him.

I asked, “Patrick, what is the hardest thing to overcome when it comes to your handicap?”

He responded with, “My putting, if I could get it under control I could drop it a couple of points.”

Wow, I ask a guy who lost his leg in Iraq to talk about his handicap and he thinks I am talking about golf!  Lesson taught and lesson learned.  Way to go Fairways for Warriors.

As for Patrick – You Da Man! 


Philippians 13:13-14 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead …”



 SGT Patrick Wickens 

 Injured in RPG attack in Iraq in May 2004


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This report is very moving and inspiring! What man has meant for evil, God redeems for good!!
Posted by Joelene Vickers on
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