124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Trip of a Lifetime: Fighting Off Jet Lag at Ballybunion

October 13, 2012

Editor's Note: Golf Digest's Roger Schiffman is on a golf trip to Ireland with wounded U.S. veterans. Here he reports on his first two days.


After only two days on what I'm calling the Trip of a Lifetime—10 days playing the greatest courses of Ireland with 11 wounded veterans -- about the only way I can describe the experience is "inspiring beyond belief."


*Major Ed Pulido and B.J. Jackson ready to tee off on the first hole at Ballybunion in Ireland.

(Photo Roger Schiffman)*

We landed Thursday morning at Shannon and went straight to Ballybunion by coach bus, all 25 of us. Nine men and two women wounded veterans, along with spouses, partners and caretakers. Plus the staff of Golf Digest Irish Tours and a few assorted press.

The Irish Tourist Office (Failte Ireland) is helping immensely to defray a lot of the costs of the trip -- ground transportation, helping with the media and some of the dinners. Aer Lingus provided free roundtrip flights from JFK. The Irish Hotels, like the Killarney Plaza, donated rooms gratis.

We had good weather at Ballybunion (see photo), with a brisk wind that kept everyone awake the first day. Yesterday, we played Tralee, which I've said before and I'll say again is the most beautiful golf course in the world. Now the others on the trip agree with me. What a spectacular place (think 15th, 16th and 17th holes at Cypress Point for the entire round).

But this trip is not just about the golf. It's also about giving these troops something no one else gives them -- the golfing experience of a lifetime. Major Ed Pulido, of the Folds of Honor Foundation, and Jim Estes, a PGA teaching professional who rehabilitates wounded veterans with his SMGA (Salute Military Golf Association) program are with us and never stop giving back. More on them to come in later blogs. And they are devoted to this cause, which is the idea of Golf Digest Ireland Editor and Publisher Linton Walsh. All are to be commended.

We're off to play Dooks today, then Waterville tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman and stay tuned.