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NEWS | Sept. 30, 2015


By Story by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton 108th Training Command- Initial Entry Training

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - ‘Fore’ is an old English term with multiple definitions.

Merriam-Webster defines it as ‘situated in front of something else.’

On one of the miraculously manicured fairways of a golf course it can mean look ahead, as if to warn someone of an incoming golf ball.

Its utterance is enough to make most calmly crouch and cover their heads in fear of being knocked unconscious from one of those hard, fast moving projectiles.

For others it’s a reason to look up towards the sky in bewilderment as if somehow actually seeing a golf ball before it hits you in the face will make the pain a little more tolerable.

But on the plush green golf course at the Pine Island Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, it was enough to send this Army photojournalist barreling head first into a golf cart, or behind a tree, or just about anywhere I could find that would provide refuge from the deluge of short shots, long shots, and just plain bad shots!

On Sept. 28, 2015, Soldiers and family members of the 108th Training Command’s Griffon Association took to the rain soaked course at Pine Island to engage in a friendly competition while raising money for charity at the same time.

For five years now, the Griffon Association has sponsored the event and used the proceeds to help provide educational scholarships and financial assistance in times of hardship to Army Reserve Soldiers and their families whenever and wherever there is the need.

“We try to make sure someone is there to help out Soldiers who, through no fault of their own, fall under hard times,” said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Charles McCartney, who commanded the 108th from 2003 until 2007 and now serves as the Griffon Association’s president. “We do the best we can to help out our fellow Soldiers.”

McCartney, an adamant golfer, says he has been playing for more than a half a century now.

“I’ve been golfing since I guess I was seven or eight,” he said.

Out of curiosity, I asked him if he was any good.

“On somedays yes, on somedays no.”

And what about today? “Not too good,” he laughed.

That seemed to be the common response as I cautiously navigated my souped up, battery powered golf cart, with half-inch thick Plexiglas plates to protect me, from hole to hole in search of the perfect shot.

At each hole, I stopped to take pictures of golfers swinging for the fences with turf flying feet over their heads, only to look down and see their tiny white nemesis tucked in right where they had placed it, on the tee in front of them.

Jack Wright, Griffon Association board member and retired Command Sgt. Maj., who helped organize the event hopes the tournament would produce a banner year for fundraising.

“We donate to a lot of different charities that support our Soldiers like the foundation of hope. We’ve also given out 4 scholarships to needy families this year.”

When I caught up with Wright, he was serving as a witness on the hole-in-one hole, where competitors had the opportunity to win a new car if their aim, and their luck, was true.

I asked him if he had seen any good golfers, he answered with a hesitant “yes” without mentioning anyone by name.

His response to whether he had seen any bad golfers out here was significantly different.

“Well yes. We just experienced one and you got a photo of it!” he exclaimed.

Indeed I did, Jack Wright, indeed I did!

It may not need mentioning, but no one won the car on this day.

While the next Tiger Woods or Michelle Wie was nowhere to be found, the event was a unanimous success and everyone seemed to walk away with a smile and a laugh.

After all, no one was injured and the only things hurt on the course were a few trees, my Plexiglas windshield, and pride, lots and lots of pride.