He fought for his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where a Taliban sniper’s bullet shattered his knee during an ambush in 2010 and, after two failed knee replacements, led to him being fitted with a prosthetic leg. Yet, David Sneddon reckons that was less nerve-wracking for him than being in the spotlight in front of 650 people at the Scottish Golf Awards.
The 38-year-old from Bathgate picked up the Inspiration accolade at the event in Edinburgh, a fitting reward for the way he has courageously fought back from having his life turned upside down by using golf to find a voluntary job in the game and now become hooked on the sport himself.
“I was totally blown away by the standing ovation I received and feel humbled that I’ve received this award,” said Sneddon, who helps out Lee Fraser, the head greenkeeper, at Kingsfield Golf Centre at Linlithgow, having been put in touch with its owner, Robert Arkley, by the On Course Foundation, a charity which helps create work experience opportunities within golf for wounded veterans.
“I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan and took that in my stride, but standing up there on the stage made me more nervous than I’ve ever been, which is probably because I’m someone that doesn’t really like the limelight.”
Kingsfield, the family-run facility – Stephen Gallacher and Richie Ramsay are both frequent visitors when they are at home in between European Tour events – has been designed in a way that it might not look overly impressive from the outside but ticks so many boxes in terms of what golf needs from a family perspective.
“Having been in the infantry for 18 years, during which time I also did a load of tours to Northern Ireland and was also out in Bosnia, it had to be something outside when the On Course Foundation was looking to get me into the golf industry and this role couldn’t be better,” added Sneddon, who was out on a “routine patrol” in Afghanistan six years ago when he was hit by gunfire along with his scout and thanks lucky stars to this day that the pair escaped with their lives.
“I did a couple of weeks’ work experience in June 2014, loved it and have never looked back. They’ve adapted some vehicles for me to help him out on the course and last year Lee was teaching me how to cut the greens on the ride-on mowers.”
Just as pleasing, both for himself and Arkley, is the fact that Sneddon has caught the golf bug himself, currently playing off 26 though admitting “bandit” has become a frequent cry from fellow members. “Like a lot of young lads, I only used to go to the range and hit some balls, but now I love my golf,” said the former corporal in 1 Scots. “I’m not that good but now I’m hooked. I love being out on the fairways and the banter here at Kingsfield is another thing I really enjoy about the game.”