The Challengers John Simpson
On-screen text: Charles Schwab Presents
John Simpson:I always wanted to be a pilot, but I caught polio when I was two. And then when I was 12, I had about a year in hospital with many operations. And my father and others told me there’s one game you can play on a level playing field with able-bodied people, and that is golf.
On-screen text: The Challengers
A series about people who QUESTION. ENGAGE. SUCCEED.
John Simpson and the 2021 Simpson Cup players
John Simpson: When I got out of the hospital, I started playing and I got down to seven handicap and my life took off from there. My name is John Simpson, and I’m president and chairman of the On Course Foundation. The On Course Foundation is a charity I started in Britain in 2010, after I’d visited the Headley Court Military Rehabilitation Center.
John Simpson: When I went there and saw the amount of young guys in there, and how many had been terribly damaged, I just thought, being disabled myself and knowing what golf had done for me,
Spoken on-screen text: What can I do to help?
John Simpson: Because I was in a great position to start a charity, which would teach them golf and then get them employment within the golf and related industries.
John Simpson: The goals are quite simple, I think, to get out and be back with your comrades, and realize that some of them are actually much worse off than you.
Spoken on-screen text: We teach them the etiquette and the rules and the history.
John Simpson: And it’s a guarantee that every one of them will hit the wow shot within the first morning session. And we know that when you are able-bodied, the game’s got you, it’s that one shot, and it’s even more so with these guys and girls, and actually says, “You know, I can do this.” And they just can’t stop practicing and playing to be as good as they possibly can.
John Simpson: So, when we started the charity, we had to raise money to make it all work. And one of the ideas we had was to start a tournament.
Mike Browne: So, the Simpson Cup is 12 injured servicemen from the U.S. and the U.K. who battle it out in a Ryder Cup-style event. My name’s Mike Browne..
Gregg Stevenson: name’s Gregg Stevenson.
Chad Pfeifer: My name is Chad Pfeifer.
Mike Browne: And I’m a professional golfer.
Chad Pfeifer: I am a professional golfer and a member of the 2021 Simpson Cup USA team. I didn’t play much golf growing up. I was introduced to it after I was injured over in Iraq.
Mike Browne: I lost my leg through the knee, and well I never left the house for about six months. You know, I was really at a low point, thought all my sporting days were over. I thought my life was pretty much over.
Gregg Stevenson: I didn’t even have prosthetic legs, so I was stuck in a wheelchair in the audience, just listening to John being inspirational as he always is. And yeah, it was just that recognition of, oh, hold on a second with my rehabilitation. This makes sense.
Mike Browne: But I couldn’t hit a ball to save my life, to be fair. So then I hit one ball and that was that. I hit it. It only went probably 50 yards, but it went straight and I’ve just instantly sort of fell in love with the game.
Chad Pfeifer: And once I found golf, that just, it gave me a sense of purpose and moving forward, it gave me different challenges every day, not only the golf aspect of it and being competitive, but also learning how to walk with a prosthetic and getting on different terrains and just kind of escaping my mind from everyday living. And so golf was very therapeutic for me.
Gregg Stevenson: You know, ultimately we all want to win the competition, but I’m looking at it from a slightly different angle in terms of every guy is at a different stage of rehabilitation. I think the main thing is the camaraderie, the challenge, and just people facing up to adversity and just demonstrating how good you can actually be at something.
Mike Browne: And it’s just about having that feeling of being in a unit again.
John Simpson: You know, it’s quite something to be able to compete on this level playing field and this great game of golf, and actually then represent their countries again, when all of them thought their sport as they knew it, and sometimes their life as they knew it, was now over.
Gregg Stevenson: I think John Simpson gave me a fair chance to be the person I know I can be because I lost that person for a little while. I lost the confidence. I lost the sort of self-esteem.
Mike Browne: I didn’t think my life was worth living anymore. You know, you can’t put into words what it means to people, what he’s done. It’s just he's saved lives. I took up golf in 2014 and I turned pro in 2016. I’ve just qualified for the rest of Dubai. I’ve played greens with the best players in the world.
Chad Pfeifer: I was the first wounded veteran amputee to play on the Korn Ferry tour. It’s pretty cool to know that I’ve accomplished that.
On-screen text: The Simpson Cup is in its 9th year.
The On Course Foundation has worked with more than 2,000 veterans in both the U.S. and U.K.
On-screen text: ASK QUESTIONS. BE ENGAGED.
On-screen text: [Charles Schwab logo] Own your tomorrow®
John Simpson: It’s a real aim in my life that the more we can help and get them playing golf and get them back into society and get them jobs. The sooner, the better.
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Onscreen text: Thanks to The Creek
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