Annapolis veteran driven to succeed, to play in Warrior Open
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The last two days of September can’t get here quickly enough for Jack Schumacher.
The Annapolis resident is scheduled to play Sept. 29-30 in the Warrior Open, a golf tournament honoring post-9/11 veterans hosted by the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas.
“It’s like Christmas morning where you see all of those presents and can’t wait to open them,” Schumacher said. “Only I’ve been seeing the presents for two months and the anticipation is killing me.”
The Illinois native, who enlisted as an infantryman in 2005, served deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He lost the lower part of a leg when the Humvee he was serving as lead gunner in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during an ambush in southeast Afghanistan.
He first took up golf in 2009 when, as part of his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he participated in the Salute Military Golf Association based in Silver Spring.
“I’d swung a couple clubs, but never really played,” said Schumacher, who was a standout football player in high school and also sprinted for the track team and played basketball and baseball. “I played every other sport imaginable as a kid. I loved the competition.”
“When I was wounded, I said to myself, ‘there goes all of my athleticism.’ But no, no, no. In the spring of 2010, the SMGA, showed me there are way more activities that I was capable of participating in.”
Schumacher says his trip to Las Colinas Country Club for the fourth annual event is a bit of juxtaposition.
“I love getting behind people that are doing good in this world,” said the recent graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “So it’s going to be very odd because I’ll be in the spotlight and people will be clapping for me.”
His venture into golf took flight earlier this year when he and his then fiance Jill decided to get married in Scotland.
His father insisted if the family was traveling to Scotland, they needed to play famed St. Andrew’s, considered the cradle of golf.
So Schumacher, 30, stepped up his game. He attended six weeks of weekend clinics in Olney with the SMGA, working with the organization’s co-founder Jim Estes. Schumacher said Estes planted the seed for him to compete in the Warrior Open and his golf game took off from there.
“He put the carrot on the stick and the wind in my sails,” Schumacher said of Estes, a former PGA Tour player who founded SMGA in 2006 with Jamie Winslow. “Golf has been a life-defining development. It rekindled that competitive side in me.”
That competitive side has driven Schumacher from a guy with a terrible slice to a golfer with a 17 handicap — a pretty impressive level for any beginner.
“I couldn’t hit a straight shot when I started out,” said Schumacher, who married Jill on June 1. “Now I score between 80 and 95.”
Schumacher said he relishes the opportunity to play in the Warrior Open.
“I know this kind of sounds morose,” he said, “but in the grand scheme of things, losing a leg is one of the best things that ever happened to me. It’s just a leg. Losing it gave me the ability to examine what’s important in life.”
Schumacher’s goal is to finish in the top 10 at the Warrior Open. He knows he won’t be among the top gross scorers at the tournament, but thinks he will have a decent shot at finishing high in the net division, where a golfer’s scoring handicap is factored into the final rankings.
“Golf is a microcosm of life,” he said. “You make an internal assessment of what can I do and what do I need to work on to improve. I know where I am today, but it’s not going to be who I am forever. There are a lot of small tests along the way and you just have to put in the effort to get better. It lets you understand who you are and what you want to be.”
Schumacher, who is hunting for a job in the Baltimore-Washington area, is grateful for those who helped him pick himself up after his injuries.
“This is all such a humbling experience,” said the two-time Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. “I loved doing my job, serving my country. There’s no greater honor than to have that American flag on your sleeve, representing your country.”
Schumacher says he will be playing for more than himself in Dallas.
“I know every shot I take, I will have all of the support I’ve received flowing through me.”
Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com
This article was written by Gerry Jackson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.