A team of injured soldiers from the UK armed forces emerged victorious in a Ryder Cup style match against opponents from Australia staged at the Celtic Manor Resort.
After two days of close competition in greensomes and fourball formats, a dominant display in the final day singles saw the Battle Back Golf team eventually claim a comprehensive victory against their opponents from the Soldier On Foundation to retain the Clyde Pearce Trophy.
Team captain Bernie Broad was also the skipper for the entire team that represented the UK at the 2017 Invictus Games in Canada, where he competed in swimming, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball as well as golf. A retired Major, Broad lost both legs below the knee after an improvised explosive device detonated and blew him out of a military vehicle in Afghanistan in 2009.
He said: “I’m so proud of the team for being able to raise their game under intense pressure from a very able Australian side. They dug deep to pull out victory on a very difficult golf course.
“We’ve enjoyed great camaraderie, as well as great competition, with a fantastic group of people who we have so much in common with, and at a fabulous venue here at Celtic Manor who have looked after us so well from the moment we arrived.
“Golf is such a brilliant game for rehabilitation and it certainly helped me to turn my life around again after my injuries. I was in a dark place – I had lost a lot of my integrity and respect and I was sucking the life out of others but golf gave me something to look forward to.
“You look forward to the next shot, you meet a lot of great people in this game and everyone is very encouraging. The handicap system means I can play against anyone and give them a run for their money.”
The Battle Back team were managed and coached by RAF physical instructors Flight Sergeant Dave Iliffe and Flight Sergeant John Mills.
“It’s been a successful week for both teams and the match has been played in the true spirit of both Battle Back and Soldier On,” said Iliffe.
“As serving members of the military, they thrived on discipline and working together as a team. Their injuries meant most of these players had to leave the military not through their own will, so a competition like this gives them something back in terms of the team spirit and the discipline they need to show in their play and course management and focus.”
Mills added: “It’s really rewarding for us to see these guys away from the day to day rehabilitation environment and out in the field of competition. It’s great to see the progress they have made. Sport and events like this are so important from both a psychological and a physiological perspective.”
The visiting golfers from both sides warmed up with a round on the Roman Road Course with Celtic Manor members before playing the three days of competition over the Twenty Ten and Montgomerie layouts.
About The Celtic Manor Resort:
Host venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup and the 2014 NATO Summit, the five-star Celtic Manor Resort is set in more than 2,000 acres of panoramic parkland at the gateway to Wales. With three hotels – a 330-room luxury Resort Hotel, an historic 19th century Manor House with 70 rooms and the 148-room Coldra Court – a large convention centre, two exceptional spas, two state-of-the-art health clubs, fishing, adventure golf, treetop high ropes course, tennis courts, mountain biking and walking trails, the Celtic Manor Resort provides a complete experience for business, leisure and golf travellers. A choice of eight restaurants includes the fine-dining Epicure Experience by Richard Davies, Steak on Six, Cen with MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen, and the Newbridge on Usk, a separate country inn with six bedrooms. In 2014, the Resort opened 10 new Hunter Lodges to offer a luxurious self-catering option to guests.
For five of the last six years, the Resort has been voted the UK’s Best Hotel by the Meetings & Incentive Travel Awards and was named Europe’s Best Golf Hotel at the 2015 World Golf Awards. The Resort offers the challenge of three 18-hole championship golf courses, including the Twenty Ten Course, the first course in history to be designed and built specifically to host The Ryder Cup. In 2016, a joint venture partnership with the Welsh Government was announced to begin construction on a new Wales International Convention Centre for 4,000 delegates on the Celtic Manor Resort site.