Don Snyder watched his inaugural Caddie School for Soldiers “help heal the wounds of war” and has returned to Fife aiming to do likewise for another group of battle-hardened veterans, writes Martin Dempster.
Seven ex-servicemen from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada are learning the art of caddying at The Duke’s Course in St Andrews, having started from scratch last Monday and continuing through until the end of the month.
Davy Gilchrist, who was twice voted Caddie Master of the Year in Scotland during a spell at Kingsbarns, is putting them through their paces, helped by David Scott, who was at The Duke’s this time last year but recently took up a new post as director of golf at Dumbarnie Links.
Snyder, the founder, hopes a group consisting of Dan Matthews (Royal Canadian Parachute Regiment), Rick Finn (Canadian Army), Stuart Beaton (Royal Logistics Corps), Robert Goodwin (Coldstream Guards/Royal Medical Corps), Jeremy Balmonte (US Infantry), Joshua Campbell (US 4th Airborne Brigade) and John Pitts (US 4th Airborne Brigade) benefit from the school in the same way six other veterans did 12 months ago.
“All of the soldiers who were part of the inaugural Caddie School last winter have told me that the time they spent living together in Elie, and the time they spent with Davy Gilchrist and David Scott helped them heal from the wounds of war,” said Snyder, who was working as a caddie in Scotland when he first began to learn about the difficulties so many soldiers were facing as they returned from war.
“Part of that healing was the way they regained some essential belief in themselves by earning the trust of the golfers they caddied for. All of them left Scotland with a new skill they could use some day to earn a good living in a meaningful profession. Two of them began working as professional caddies last season.”