I am not a
golfer. For the congressman who represents Pebble Beach, that is probably
blasphemy, but it's the truth. I do enjoy watching others play, however.
Several years ago I was introduced to a gentleman who played golf from the back
of a golf cart because he was disabled and couldn't use his legs. The cart was
specially designed to allow him to address the ball as if he didn't have any
couple of years and shift from the courses of Pebble Beach to the amputee ward
at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. No matter what your political view is on
the war in Iraq, I think we all agree that once our troops are engaged, it's
only right that they get the resources they need to do their job. And for those
who return to America injured, it's only right that they get the health care
and rehabilitative services they need to get back to active and productive
I have spent time
at Walter Reed with soldiers who are recovering amputees. During those visits
I've become familiar with the physical therapy the patients endure--an
exhaustive regimen that is designed to bring these warrior-athletes back to a
physical state that will enable them to participate in sports just as
able-bodied folks do. Jogging, biking, basketball and golf are all part of the
When it comes to
golf, though, there is a cruel twist: The program at Walter Reed doesn't have
the equipment to actually put people on the course. Sure, they can regain their
strength, flexibility and balance, and learn how to swing a club, but to really
play they would need special golf carts. These single-rider carts are driven
with hand controls and have a swivel seat that lifts the golfer up so that he
can properly address the ball. They also have tires that are specially designed
not to damage the delicate grass on the greens.
It wouldn't be so
bad if these newly rehabilitated golfers were released into a world that
provided the specialty carts, but most public courses don't have them and,
sadly, neither do the approximately 150 military bases with courses where many
veterans and retirees play. This is particularly painful because federal law
requires the Department of Defense to provide the carts, but the Pentagon has
been slow to do so.
to be done. Earlier this year I introduced language into the FY 2007 Defense
Authorization bill (H.R. 5122) that set a timetable for the Department of
Defense to figure out how to get these carts to the injured soldiers who need
them. On Oct. 17 President Bush signed the bill into law, meaning that the
efforts at physical rehabilitation through golf will not be in vain, and these
returned soldiers will lead a fuller life once the Defense Department fulfills
its responsibilities under federal law.
congressman who represents Pebble Beach, that's great to know.
Farr (D., Calif.) has represented the Golden State's 17th district for 12
GOLF PLUS will
next appear in the Nov. 13 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.