There are many examples of golf's unique power as a healer - but none are more profound than that of Simpson Cup Team USA captain Chad Pfeifer, who has no hesitation in saying "golf saved my life."
The 37-year old from Idaho – now a husband and father of three - shunned a promising career in baseball to join the US Army in 2005. However, two years later, when his unit was deployed to Al Iskandariyah for Operation Iraqi Freedom, disaster struck as his Humvee rolled over a pressure plate IED, which resulted in a left leg above-knee amputation (as well as other life-threatening injuries).
It was while recovering from this horrific trauma that Pfeifer was introduced to the game of golf. And his progress since - well, it's barely believable.
Having struck a golf ball for the first time four years earlier, he won the 2011 National Amputee Championship (a feat he repeated in 2015 and 2016). Not long after, with success continuing to flow, he decided to turn pro. Since then, his many accolades include winning the South African Disabled Golf Open in 2016 and 2017. He also emerged victorious in the World Disabled Golf Championships in 2016, and went back for more a year later by winning the team version of the event.
However, perhaps his most historic venture onto the golf course was partaking in the 2015 Albertson's Boise Open; making him the first amputee to compete in a Web.com Tour event.
"I was extremely nervous when I teed it up that day, but it's a moment I will never forget," Pfeifer recalls with a grin. "Just being there was a huge accomplishment - not only for me, but for all amputees moving forward, and I will be forever grateful for that opportunity and experience."
He continued: "My whole purpose of turning professional was to help inspire other wounded veterans and people with disabilities through the game of golf. The event allowed my story to reach out to thousands of people, and one of the biggest things I learned and appreciated was that my story was helping more people than I realized.”
Although he went on to miss the cut with scores of 75 and 76, he not only felt like he belonged: he left an indelible mark on the world of professional golf.
Pfeifer added: "During the Boise Open there were times when I questioned whether or not the other players would respect me and my game, but the only thing I could do was play my hardest.
"When I finished my Friday round, almost all of the players that weren’t on the course greeted me as I walked off the last hole; thanking me for my service, and congratulating me on playing. It's a memory that will last a lifetime."
Nevertheless, watching this humble man swing a golf club is a pure delight, and, without looking down, you couldn't possibly know that such tempo prevails with only one leg at the helm. So, does this disability bother him? And to what extent does the injury occupy his mind when competing with fellow, able-bodied professionals?
"If nothing else, I'll always have an excuse if I play poorly!" Pfeifer laughs. "To be honest, I don’t really focus on it at all and don’t feel it holds me back. Playing competitive golf, it’s something I’ve learned to deal with and overcome."
Yet it is when Pfeifer is pressed on his aspirations as a playing professional that the difficulties become clearer. Moreover, it also lends the kind of perspective for this extraordinary gentleman which, in all likelihood, few of his other Tour pro colleagues could ever hope to possess.
"I still have plans to compete at the highest level, but have struggled with some back injuries," he explained. "As a leg amputee, it’s almost impossible to keep your hips and spine perfectly aligned because you always have to compensate for that. Even a perfectly-aligned prosthetic will change heights over a short period of time.
"But more importantly, I have realized that I don’t have to compete at the highest level to impact other lives and be an inspiration to others with disabilities. I still have goals and dreams of playing on the PGA Tour, and I hope to reach those. But I will always continue to give back and strive to help make others’ lives better through the game of golf and sharing my story."
Yet there is one vital chapter of this story which makes Pfeifer's eyes light up: the Simpson Cup. As one of the few men playing at The Maidstone Club who competed in the inaugural event at TPC Sawgrass back in 2012, his affinity with the Simpson Cup is that much deeper.
"The Simpson Cup has been an amazing opportunity for everyone involved to be with other wounded veterans from both the U.S. and the U.K.," Pfeifer noted. "The camaraderie with all players helps us veterans realize we aren’t battling the issues we face by ourselves. The relationships developed at the tournament last a lifetime, and it’s always beneficial when veterans have other veterans to talk to during struggles.
"I’m incredibly honored to be captain of this year’s team, and represent all veterans and alumni from years past. Any time I can put on a team uniform and represent my country is always an honor, and to be able to captain this year’s team will be an even more amazing experience."