Elite Golf Course Breeze For Soldiers Email This Story Print This Story

Elite Golf Course A Breeze For Soldiers

Oct 29, 2009
By SHARONDA PEARSON, Fort Jackson Leader

James Gilbert, left, and Larry Jackson try to gauge a putt at the Fort Jackson Golf Club.
James Gilbert, left, and Larry Jackson try to gauge a putt at the Fort Jackson Golf Club. The players recently competed in a tournament at the prestigious Tobacco Road Golf Club.Photo credit SHARONDA PEARSON, Fort Jackson Leader

FORT JACKSON, S.C. - A two-man golf team from Fort Jackson recently worked their way to a second place win at the 2nd Annual Carolinas PGA Golf League Championship at Tobacco Road Golf Club.

James Gilbert and Larry Jackson, both Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, said the Sanford, N.C., course was one of the most difficult that they had ever played. The par-71, 6,500-yard course was named one of the 10th toughest golf courses in the country in 2007 by Golf Digest.

"I was surprised how well we shot at the tournament because of the level of difficulty of the course," Gilbert said. Jackson agreed.

"The course was very challenging. Probably one of the most challenging I've ever played."

Gilbert shot a 70, and Jackson shot a 73 - after their handicaps were factored in - for a score of 328.

Scores are tallied based on the number of teams and each team's total (both players' net hole score added together), with a net stroke play component. The team with the highest combined point total wins.

This was the first year that members of the Fort Jackson intramural golf teams had the opportunity to participate in the tournament. The Fort Jackson teams competed in one round against 17 other teams from across the Carolinas.

"The intramural league decided to join the Carolinas Golf League as an incentive to draw more Soldiers and civilians to join the intramural league on post," said Cindi Keene, the intramural sports coordinator at Fort Jackson. "The four teams that we sent to compete were the guinea pigs ... they didn't even have the opportunity to practice on the course before competing."

Gilbert and Jackson were the active duty winners of the fall intramural league. Also participating from Fort Jackson were the active duty spring winners from the 165th Infantry Brigade; spring recreation winners, the "Heavy Hitters;" and fall recreation winners, the "Sandbaggers."

The Heavy Hitters came in fifth with a score of 256.5, the Sandbaggers came in 13th with a score of 167.5 and the 165th team came in 15th with a score of 122.

Even though the Soldiers did not have the chance to practice on the course, both felt that their practice at the Fort Jackson Golf Club adequately prepared them for the more difficult course.

"The difficulty around the course of Fort Jackson definitely helps when trying to adjust to another course. ... Fort Jackson does a great job," Jackson said.

Gilbert said he felt like the accessibility of the on-post course made a significant difference in preparing for the tournament.

"Availability to get on this course to practice is easy for Soldiers. If you plan three to four days in advance, then you can definitely get on a course," Gilbert said.

Both Soldiers agreed that the level of support from the intramural league and battalion leadership contributed to their success.

"If we weren't supported by our company commanders, (and the) battalion commander and the battalion (executive officer) weren't understanding when we needed a break from our long hours at work, then we wouldn't have been able to participate," Jackson said. "(Our win) wouldn't have been possible without them."

The duo beat 11 teams during the fall and spring intramural golf seasons for the right to play in the tournament.

Keene said she believes that joining the Carolinas Golf League network and participating in a golf tournament as renowned as the Carolinas PGA Golf Championship will improve the level of golf played by participants during the fall and spring intramural golf seasons.

"Being involved in this tournament makes each player play to his or her full potential because they all want to win a chance to compete against teams from all over North and South Carolina," Keene said. "Hopefully, next year we can send the champions and the first runners-up because it was such a good experience for the Soldiers, and they really enjoyed it."

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