Last week while in Los Angeles I met KC Mitchell, a U.S. veteran who plays to a 12-handicap. Oh, and he lost one of his legs when his Humvee hit an IED in Afghanistan. Needless to say, it was a fascinating conversation about how he’d turned to golf during his recovery. The story ran on Friday:
He was 27 days away from returning back to his home in California when Staff Sergeant KC Mitchell’s Humvee hit a roadside bomb outside Kandahar in Afghanistan. He was the only one in the vehicle injured, but the bomb’s damage to the solider was widespread, including massive injuries to his legs and arms.
In the weeks and months that followed, Mitchell, then 25, began the long road back to recovery while doctors tried to save his legs. They weren’t entirely successful and Mitchell eventually had part of his left leg removed, with an additional 30 surgeries to try to save the right one.
About a year later, Mitchell was rehabbing back in California when he encountered Operation Game On, a golf program launched by Tony Perez, the father of PGA Tour pro Pat Perez. The program is aimed at involving wounded vets in the sport. Mitchell, an athlete before joining the military, decided it would be interesting to try the game. He picked up a club and struggled to stay balanced. But when he hit his first solid shot he was hooked.
That was two years ago. Now Mitchell plays to a 12-handicap and has broken 80.
“I’d never played before,” he says. “I hate it but I love it so much at the same time. It goes well with my injuries. I get frustrated with my injuries and I get frustrated by golf, but then you get better and overcome it.”