FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Dozens of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from around the country and around the world, recently spent four-days here competing in a physically demanding, skill-challenging, 72-hole All Armed Forces Golf Championship to see who among their ranks would rise to the top of the competition and claim victory over their peers.
Two of those competing for top honors this year were Army Reserve Soldiers who represented the All Army women’s team, and were pitted against teams from the Navy and the Air Force.
Leading the charge was Col. Sunny Mitchell, officer-in-charge of recruiting and retention, U.S Army Reserve Command, and team captain for the All Army golf team. A week prior to the All Armed Forces Golf competition, Mitchell clinched first place in the All Army Women’s Golf tournament after completing 72-holes of tough competition. It was the 15th time she has competed in All Army Golf tournaments in the last 22 years.
“The last two-weeks here have been phenomenal,” said Mitchell. “During the first week I was able to compete for and win the All Army Women’s Golf Championship for the eighth time in my career. I can’t even express how fortunate I’ve been to represent my unit and represent the Army.”
Mitchell’s teammate this year was Capt. Eraina Manor, a military intelligence officer assigned to the 647th Regional Support Group based in Wichita, Kansas. Manor, who has competed once previously in the All Army Golf Tournament, was excited to have the opportunity to represent the Army and compete again this year.
“It’s been such a privilege to be able to compete at this level against the different services,” said Manor. “Making friends and seeing the professionalism on the course here has been really, really awesome to be a part of.”
The first day of the competition started with a two-hour delay caused by drizzling rain and ominous dark skies. Mitchell and Manor both ended the day with a score of 86, 13 strokes over par. In contrast, the U.S. Air Force women’s team came out swinging in top form, ending their first day with one member shooting par and one with just three strokes over par, setting a winning pace from the very start.
The All Army Men’s Team concluded their first day of competition with two of their six members shooting under par, highlighting them as a top competitor going forward into the competition.
After four-days of drives, chips, putts, and the constant pressure of competition, the final scores were tallied. For the women’s teams, the Air Force came out on top, clenching first place with a combined total score of 596, followed by the Navy team with a combined score of 633.
For the men’s teams, the Army stepped up to the podium to take the first-place position. The top two Soldiers had the lowest overall scores with a 277 and a 290. U.S. Army Sgt. Steve Lim stood out well above the crowd, blowing the competition away, by shooting 15 under par during the tournament.
Although the Army women’s team didn’t go home with the gold this year, the Army Reserve Soldiers were happy to have had the opportunity to compete in this multi-service competition.
“My favorite part of this competition was being able to represent the Army at this level, and kind of blend two lives into one,” said Manor. “Having the honor and privilege of being an Army officer and being able to combine that career choice with my passion for golfing has been a great opportunity that I’m really grateful for. It is such a good time competing and it really does mean something. It makes you feel good and it’s just an awesome way to represent the Army.”
“The All Army Sports program is just fabulous,” said Mitchell. “It’s a great way to represent your unit, it’s a great way to represent the Army. Overall it’s a great way to compete and showcase the best talent across the Army. It’s been a phenomenal experience and a blessing every time I get to play.”
Mitchell went on to say that the All Army Sports competitions like this, are important for a variety of reasons. “This is important, because this is who we are as an Army, and this is who we are recruiting, scholars, athletes and leaders. Athleticism, whether it’s individual or team competition, it’s a team building event. Even in golf where you are competing on an individual basis, you are still part of a team. Even if you hit a bad shot, you must stay in the game and think ahead about how to minimize your mistakes to make sure you are giving your team the best chance to win.”
Although this year’s competition is in the books, Mitchell is already looking for interested Soldiers to try-out and compete in next year’s tournament.
“We are trying to get the word out, especially in the Army Reserve, that we are constantly recruiting new talent, and trying to bring back talent from previous years,” said Mitchell. “The competition is open to all ranks; officer, warrant officer or enlisted. A lot of people think you must be active duty to compete in All Army Sports and you don’t. It’s active duty, guard or reserve, and I know we have a lot of talent across the army reserve. We want to get the message out, especially to our junior Soldiers to come out and participate, not only for All Army Golf, but for all sports.”
Manor also had some words of advice for anyone thinking of trying out for All Army Sports. “Just try to prioritize it, and advocate for yourself to participate in these events,” she said. “I know it can be challenging for servicemembers to get the time off, but if someone wants to compete in golf or any other sport, I encourage people to do it. It’s an awesome opportunity and a fantastic time.”
Next year’s All Armed Forces Golf Tournament is scheduled to be held in San Diego in July. Manor is already planning to be there.
“I will absolutely be coming back next year if my unit allows me to compete,” she said with a smile. “I think I’ll practice a bit more before I come back, but I’ll absolutely be back if I have the opportunity.”