A GOLF pro has helped an injured soldier fight his way back to fitness.
Parnell Reilly, head PGA professional at Bradley Park Golf Club in Huddersfield, gave up his time to coach Halifax soldier Jack Holmes.
Jack, 23, of Siddal, lost both his legs above the knee in an explosion in Afghanistan in September 2010.
Jack underwent rehabilitation at Headley Court, the forces medical centre in Surrey.
As part of a special scheme aimed at helping injured soldiers Jack was teamed up with Parnell.
The Huddersfield pro was one of several across the country who volunteered their time as part of the PGA Golf Buddy programme.
Jack said: “I had never really thought of taking up golf until they asked if I wanted to take part in this scheme.
“I tried it out on the driving range and enjoyed it. It’s a really addictive sport which helps keep me fit.”
Jack, who was given his own specially-made clubs donated by manufacturer PING, has had coaching sessions at Bradley and said: “It’s been great to learn from Parnell. He says I’m welcome back anytime.”
Jack, who has prosthetic legs, will be medically discharged from the Army in June and is training to be a locksmith.
Parnell and the other pros were invited to Headley Court for a tour and a presentation to thank them for their work.
“It was a privilege to be invited and be given a tour of the base,” said Parnell.
“We were treated like stars and got these special plaques but the real stars are the guys and girls that go through Headley Court for all the wrong reasons in terms of the terrible injuries they have suffered.
“We are only doing something we enjoy.
“During the tour we saw a couple of soldiers being fitted for prosthetic limbs and it is very humbling and you realise how lucky you are in your own lives.
“One of the things that hit home for me was learning that an above the knee amputee has to expend 300 times more energy in walking than a normal person. This is the kind of thing you never hear about.”
Parnell said it had been a pleasure to meet Jack and added: “He’s a good player with an even better attitude. He’s the kind of young man you’d want as a son.”
Lt Col Tristan Crew, clinical development officer at Headley Court, said: “What the PGA pros are doing in the Golf Buddy programme is very special, it makes a massive difference to these soldiers.
“Sport is ideal for our guys, many of them who have been used to competing on the rugby and football field and the unique handicapping system of golf enables them to compete against their peers.
“More importantly they get a lot of self-esteem and confidence from playing golf.”
The PGA pros utilise their coaching skills to help soldiers overcome a range of physical disabilities with a new target for many of them of qualifying for the Captain Pietsch Trophy which sees injured British war veterans take on their American counterparts in what Lt Col Crew described as ‘their Ryder Cup’.