Is the Simpson Cup the Best Golf Event Ever?

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Emotions will run high on September 26-27.

That’s when the U.S. and U.K. teams of wounded veterans compete against one another in On Course Foundation’s 2023 Simpson Cup at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in England.

Here’s the deal:

The 13 qualifying U.S. players are here, ranging in age from 29 to 58 across eight states coast to coast and include four rookies, five amputees and handicaps from .7 to 18.  Marty Caraway, a former Marine, is team captain for the second consecutive Simpson Cup.  Service members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are represented.

The defending Simpson Cup champion U.K. team roster is here.

The four-day event features two days of Ryder Cup-style matches between 13 golfers per team.  The first day’s battle is better-ball match play with six points at stake and the second showcases 13 singles, straight match play with 13 points at stake.  The first team to reach 10 points wins the Simpson Cup.  The competition is flanked by emotional opening and closing ceremonies a la the Ryder Cup and Olympics.

“We’re coming for this cup and have the dynamics, personalities and work ethic that meld well,” says Caraway.  “That said, while winning the Simpson Cup is fun, it’s superseded by On Course Foundation helping wounded veterans gain incredible purpose, experiences, mental and physical wellness, friendships, golf jobs and memories.”

Entering this year’s 11th Simpson Cup, the U.S. won five matches and the U.K. five.  Host site Royal Lytham & St. Annes has produced 11 Open Championships and five Women’s British Opens.  Past Simpson Cup venues include TPC Sawgrass, Congressional, Royal St. George’s, Oak Hill, Royal Birkdale, Maidstone, St. Andrews, The Creek and Baltusrol.

Team members’ hidden and physical wounds sustained from the heat of battle include PTSD, brain tumors, amputations, emphysema, traumatic brain injuries, joint raptures, spinal issues and broken backs, hips, ribs, collarbones, femurs and sternums.

Some U.S. team player highlights:

  • Chad Pfeifer, 42, is an army veteran who persevered to overcome the loss of his left leg above the knee to become a scratch golfer. He finished third in the 2022 U.S. Adaptive Open and first among competitors with physical impairments.
  • Shauna Snyder, 57, is the team’s only female and 2023 marks the third time she qualified for a Simpson Cup. She overcame complex back, neck, shoulder and hip injuries from decades in the U.S. Army Medical Department.
  • Nick Kimmel, 34, is among the miraculous Simpson Cup stories. An IED explosion in Afghanistan left him without both legs above knee and his left arm above the elbow.  A golfer as a youth, the triple-amputee was “tortured” about the notion of never playing again.

“The desire wasn’t there, and the primary thought was that missing limbs would cause me to sit on the sidelines forever,” says Kimmel.  “Then I learned about On Course Foundation and since joining, members prompted me to not feel sorry for myself, overcome the physical and psychological pain by thinking positively, and get back into the swing of things.

The Simpson Cup is named after On Course Foundation founder John Simpson, the longtime business manager for Nick Faldo, Vijay Singh, Bernard Langer, Nick Price and other Tour players.  As a child, he was stricken with polio that to this day renders his left leg nonfunctional.  Simpson’s disability, and his speaking with injured veterans at Headley Court in the U.K. in 2010, led him to marry golf and goodwill, ultimately creating On Course Foundation.

“It’s amazing to see those who sacrificed so much and still undergo severe PTSD and physical challenges, compete at such a high level,” says Simpson.  “This is pinnacle event on our program calendar and a major mechanism for On Course Foundation to raise awareness and funds.”

Simpson Cup sponsors include Charles Schwab, Barclays, Topgolf Callaway Brands, The Sinclair Charity and the Summit Golf Brands.

Lo and behold, it’s not all about the Simpson Cup for On Course Foundation.

Year-round, the organization helps active and retired, injured Service members develop playing abilities while teaching career skills to work in the golf industry.  It then places them in jobs with the likes of Dormie Network, Golf Pride, Invited, Landscapes Unlimited, Marriott Golf, TaylorMade Golf, Topgolf Callaway Brands, TPC Network and Troon, as well as at golf courses, country clubs and resorts nationwide.

More than 2,200 wounded veterans have benefitted from On Course Foundation learning programs in the U.S. and Europe since 2010.

Bravo, everyone, bravo!

Rich Katz

Rich Katz is Founder and CEO of Katz Strategy, a golf business and marketing advisory firm. One of golf’s most networked executives for 30-plus years, he founded golf-marketer Buffalo Agency (now Buffalo Groupe), was agent to PGA TOUR players and held leadership positions at Billy Casper Golf. rkatz@katzstrategy.com.

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