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Posted: July 20, 2017 11:45 a.m.
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Striving to win at life, golf

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To perform daily tasks, Dwyer uses a prosthesis hand, a body-powered hook that attaches to a harness that wraps around his upper body. To open and close it, he applies tension to a cable that runs along the prosthesis. When he golfs, instead of the hook, he uses a special crafted "piece" that the golf club slides through which secures the club.

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It was the second time Lt. Col. Ken Dwyer, the Hunter Army Airfield Garrison commander and his four-man team took second place in a Hunter garrison golf scramble since he became commander in June.  Dwyer enjoys the monthly scrambles and the comradery with players but when it comes to losing the first-place trophy two-out-of-two- times, his competitive nature tells him to get out there and practice.

“I try not to take myself too seriously about most things,” said the easy-going commander who received national recognition for his determination to re-learn golf after a rocket-propelled grenade took off his left hand and his left eye in Afghanistan in 2006.  He spent six months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland to heal physically and mentally before returning to his Special Forces unit and continuing the fight.

“The thing is, I don’t like to lose; I’m ultracompetitive,” he said.  “Besides, excellence is valuable when it’s not at the expense of good sportsmanship.  It’s under-rated these days.  In the last 15-20 years children have been hearing that winning isn’t important— just to get out there and have fun.”

Dwyer is a big fan of "fun" and he encourages the young players he coaches to have lots of it. But he always asks them, "what could be more fun than winning?”

Dwyer said he looks forward to playing the Hunter fairways often and improving his handicap of 16. In his last year at Fort Bragg, he only played three times. He doesn’t blame his mediocre game to the loss of his arm or his glass eye, he blames it to not enough practice.  After his 2006 injuries, amazingly, his game improved with a handicap of about 12.

To perform daily tasks, Dwyer uses a prosthesis hand, a body-powered hook that attaches to a harness that wraps around his upper body.  To open and close it, he applies tension to a cable that runs along the prosthesis. When he golfs, instead of the hook, he uses a special crafted ‘piece’ that the golf club slides through which secures the club.  After three years of practice and a lot of effort and determination, Dwyer now works it effectively; however, he is still challenged at hitting the ball for distance. 

After rehab, Dwyer had the opportunity to play in ‘Troops First,’ a wounded warrior tournament with Tom Watson, a professional golfer on the PGA Tour. Watson was ranked the number one player 1978 to 1982 by McCormack’s World Golf Rankings.  Dwyer said the pointers that Watson shared helped to turn his game around. 

In 2009, Dwyer hit the ceremonial first shot at the AT&T National alongside Tiger Woods, another golf legend, and a wounded warrior in Washington DC.

Hunter’s new commander strives to use his injuries to encourage others to keep pushing whenever they’re frustrated and want to quit after an injury.  He believes that the outcome could surprise you if you focus on what you can do.

“The biggest problem I’ve faced from my injuries are the limitations that others put on me.”

If you want to play with the garrison commander in the next Hunter Golf Scramble, Aug. 11, 9 a.m., on the Hunter Golf Course, contact the club manager at 912- 315-9115.

Results of the Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Scramble

First Place:  53
Chris Garlick, Daniel Krebs, Todd Garlick, Craig Prouty
Second Place:  57 (scorecard playoff)
Kenneth Dwyer, Ernie Tafoya, Brendan Kirk, Mark Germonprez
Third Place:  57
Nathan Lacey, Travis Hood, Nathan Powell
Fourth Place:  60
Nathan Turner, Thomas Pearlman, Joseph Welch, Miguel Diaz

Closest to Line:  Houston Boyd
Closest to Hole:  Nathan Turner
Closest to Line:  Miguel Diaz
Longest Drive:  Sam Ponte
Closest to Hole: Ernie Tafoya


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