The Home of Golf will welcome wounded military personnel from both sides of the Atlantic to compete in an annual event to raise funds and awareness for the On Course Foundation later this month.
The Simpson Cup sees injured service personnel and veterans from the United Kingdom and the United States compete in a Ryder Cup-style match to aid the work of the Foundation.
The charitable organisation, founded in 2010, is registered in both the USA and the UK and is supported by The R&A. It supports the recovery of wounded military personnel through the sport of golf and sources employment opportunities for them.
Women in Golf Charter
Later this week will see the eighth edition of the Simpson Cup, being played in St Andrews from 19 – 22 May, allowing players from many walks of life and bearing some severe injuries from the battlefield to tee up and enjoy competition and camaraderie.
With the On Course Foundation among the organisations who have committed to The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter, it is fitting that Team GB's Kate Surman will this year become the first woman to line up in the competition.
Kate, a former REME Platoon Commander, who enjoyed a stellar 15-year career within the Armed Forces, had her life brought to a shuddering halt in 2014 when she was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that eroded her entire jaw.
Having faced unimaginable difficulties including continued chemotherapy, the loss of her teeth, hair and her whole left fibula which was used to rebuild her jaw, the result was the end of her cherished military career and a period suffering from depression.
St Andrews chance
The 34-year old, thanks in large part to the On Course Foundation, is now firmly back on her feet and will be competing at the Simpson Cup on golf's most hallowed turf.
“It's an incredible honour and it means a huge amount to be part of the team,” said Kate. “It almost feels apt that it has happened the year we are lucky enough to be playing at the Home of Golf. In terms of becoming the first woman to qualify for the Simpson Cup, I think it proves the point that anything is possible if you believe it can happen. I have worked hard for years now to try and prove myself and as a beginner in the golfing world.
“I’ve had great support from everyone at the On Course Foundation. It's been lovely and epitomises what the charity is all about – rebuilding that family of people who understand each other after all that we have lost.”
Kate hopes her qualification for the event will set a precedent for other ex-servicewomen to seek a way of re-establishing their purpose in life.
“It would be great if it helps make other women who have left the military realise that there is no stigma in terms of gender attached to the game of golf as a whole,” she added. “Besides, the handicap system covers everything anyway and positions golf as a truly unique sport. Whoever you are and whatever your background, gender or disability, having a fair handicap ensures that everybody can compete together.”
The match is named after its founder, John Simpson, former Senior Vice-President of International Management Group (IMG). Simpson, who has only one fully-functioning leg as a result of suffering polio as a child, is also the Chairman and Founder of On Course Foundation.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development and Amateur Events at The R&A, said: “We're proud to see St Andrews play host to the Simpson Cup this year and The R&A applauds the tremendous work being done by the On Course Foundation in furthering this excellent cause.
“It is particularly pleasing to learn of the selection of Kate Surman for Team GB and her historic achievement of becoming the first woman to qualify.
“Through the Women in Golf Charter, we've committed to a wide range of initiatives and programmes with our partners to make our sport more inclusive and ensure that women and girls can reap the benefits that golf can offer. The Simpson Cup is a wonderful example of this approach in action.”
For more information about the On Course Foundation and the Simpson Cup please visit www.oncoursefoundation.com