Injured servicemen and veterans from Great Britain and the United States will go head-to-head in the prestigious Simpson Cup at Royal Birkdale.
On Course Foundation
The annual competition sees two teams compete in a Ryder Cup-style tournament that raises funds and awareness for the On Course Foundation – a charitable organisation registered in both the UK and US – which is supported by The R&A.
All of the competitors are members of the Foundation, which helps men and women who were injured, sick or wounded in the line of duty to rebuild their lives by having opportunities to play the game and gain employment in the golf industry. The Foundation’s Patrons include the Duke of York and the late Arnold Palmer, who won The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1961.
On the back of a memorable 146th Open, which saw Jordan Spieth lift the Claret Jug at the Southport links, final preparations for the Simpson Cup, which will be staged from 24 – 27 September, are now underway.
The Simpson Cup
The annual competition, now in its sixth edition since the inaugural event at TPC Sawgrass in 2012, showcases the unique position of golf as one of the few sports where players of all skills and abilities can play together on a level playing field because of the handicapping system.
Great Britain currently leads the US 3-2, although the Americans are the current defending champions after victory at Oak Hill last year. The sides are captained by Paul Skivington (GB) Michael and Chad Pfeifer (USA). Despite being above-the-knee amputees Pfiefer and GB vice-captain Mike Browne are both professional golfers, with the latter missing out on qualifying for The Open in July by just one stroke.
Alasdair Barr, one of the Foundation’s coaches will also be on hand to support the Great Britain team at Royal Birkdale. He recently received a Game Changer Award for his service to golf and his work with injured service men and women.
“The whole purpose of the foundation is to rehabilitate through playing golf and help people secure jobs in the golfing industry whether that be in greenkeeping or as club secretaries. The participants also get the chance to carry out work experience including with American Golf, who are one of our supporters.
“At the Simpson Cup I will be helping the players with their golf course management skills. The team is full of wonderful golfers from various backgrounds and all have inspiring stories to tell. The chance to play in the championship gives the players a sense of belonging and shows others what they can achieve even after sustaining a life-changing injury.”
The tournament is named after its founder, John Simpson, former Senior Vice-President of International Management Group (IMG). Simpson, who himself only has one fully-functioning leg as a result of suffering polio as a child, is also the Chairman and Founder of the On Course Foundation and has managed players such as Sir Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh and Bernhard Langer.
“I am truly humbled that the Simpson Cup will be taking place at such an historic and glorious course,” Simpson said. “The recent Open Championship is still fresh in our minds, and Birkdale raised the bar, drawing in record crowds, and attracting widespread acclaim for its superb layout.”
He continued: “Each year we’ve seen the most moving and inspiring stories emerge at the Simpson Cup. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the class of 2017 has in store for us, and it will be a privilege to watch these guys put on another terrific spectacle at this, one of my favourite golfing venues in the world.
“The competition, and the events leading up to it, encapsulate what the On Course Foundation is all about, and giving these incredible veterans the opportunity to shape their futures, both in terms of playing golf and building a sustainable career, is the very least they deserve.”
For more information about the On Course Foundation and the Simpson Cup please visit oncoursefoundation.com.