How this woman’s work is changing lives, one injured veteran at a time
On Tuesday, Aug. 30th, 26 players will come together to compete in the 10th annual Simpson Cup, a match-play event that pits 13 injured servicemen and women from the UK and the United States against each other in a Ryder Cup-style competition.
This year’s event is taking place at Baltusrol CC in New Jersey. There’s no money up for grabs, just pure love of the game and country.
Shauna Snyder is one of only two women who qualified to play, and last year, she became the first woman ever to compete for Team USA when the 2021 Simpson Cup was played at The Creek Club in Long Island, N.Y. Snyder suffers from complex shoulder, back and neck injuries but is quick to downplay her conditions.
“I feel extremely blessed to be as healthy as I am,” Snyder said recently by phone. “Still have a few things to deal with. But it’s nothing compared to what these guys gave.”
Snyder joined the Army in 1988 and spent more than 32 years in active duty service before retiring in 2020 as a full colonel. Her next mission: serving as the On Course Foundation’s Military Liaison and Employment Manager.
The On Course Foundation, which officially launched in 2010, aims to offer injured servicemen and women (both active and retired) the opportunity to bolster their golf skills, compete on the course, and connect participants with employment opportunities in the golf industry.
Since the foundation’s inception, On Course has expanded to conduct programs in 15 markets across the country, which include introductory clinics, game development under the guidance of PGA professionals, and industry workshops.
And since 2012, there’s also the annual Simpson Cup, in which members go through a qualifying tournament in order to participate.
As the former chief of staff for the Army’s Warrior Transition Command, Snyder’s civilian gig with the On Course Foundation has been a perfect fit. While on active duty, Snyder managed all of the Army’s wounded, ill, and injured soldiers who were coming back from deployments. Now, she’s able to combine her passion for giving back to the injured veterans’ community with her expertise in human resources.
Snyder learned the game from her father and grandparents but didn’t start playing seriously until she was an adult. An on-duty stint in Georgia solidified both her interest in the game and lit a competitive fire. Snyder went on to compete for the Army, playing on the All-Army team from 2011-2018, and traveling to tournaments across the globe. But she says the most gratifying part of her job now is being able to witness golf’s healing effect on her fellow servicemen and women.
“The game of golf has just changed their life,” she said. “The guys with PTSD, who just were struggling. Struggling with alcohol, struggling with addiction, trying to come off pain meds, whatever it might be. And there’s just a total refocus to the game of golf, and using golf as their method to rehab and find that passion and purpose again in life.
“And that’s what’s exciting about the employment side,” she continued. “Because they get so excited that they just want to play and potentially get into the industry.”
Part of Snyder’s many responsibilities with On Course include forging relationships with partners like Callaway, Top Golf, Golf Pride, Troon, Marriott, Club Corp and others, which then opens the door for more job opportunities.
Thanks to Snyder’s support, one On Course member recently landed a job with Callaway as head of security at a distribution center. Another came on to work alongside Snyder at the foundation. Still others have found work at golf courses around the country.
According to Snyder, employment is only one aspect of On Course’s mission.
“Giving our wounded and injured service members a venue as part of a rehab is significant,” she said. “But also, I think more importantly, the programs help keep them connected with other veterans who understand their mindset and understand a lot of what they’ve gone through.
“It’s just a comfortable level that you have with other veterans,” she continued. “When you walk in the door, you know the bonds are pretty much instantaneous. It’s just a shared understanding of what we’ve all been through, what we’ve seen, you know, and the struggles. But using golf to just find that passion and that mental focus that you need to recover and just to get re-engaged back in life, I think that’s what’s just so important.”
On Tuesday, Team USA and Team GB (Great Britain) will compete in six four-ball matches, followed by 13 singles matches on Wednesday. You can find more information about the event here.