An ace on the green

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Navy veteran Paul Kaminsky

Retired Navy veteran, DAV life member returns to the 25th annual National Disabled Veterans TEE Tournament in Iowa

When 30-year Navy veteran Paul Kaminsky first began to lose his vision due to macular degeneration, he believed the days of playing his beloved past time were over.

“I was a seven handicap back in the good old days,” recalled Kaminsky, who thought he had put away his golf clubs for good as his sight worsened.

Then the DAV life member learned about the National Disabled Veterans TEE Tournament in Iowa. Now he’s made the trek from Florida to Iowa for the 25th annual event more than ten times.

“I can see peripheral, but nothing in front of me,” explained Kaminsky. “I see the course but not where the ball goes. But once my golf buddy lines me up, the muscle memory is still there.”

Last year, Kaminsky had his first hole in one playing what he calls the “art of golf.”

Initially he even surprised himself with the ace. But Kaminsky is used to veterans overcoming obstacles on the course. He recalled DAV Past National Commander Dave Riley, the event chairman, first attending the TEE Tournament a few years ago. The quadruple amputee tried golfing for the first time, and used a specially adapted club that fit into his prosthesis.

“At first I didn’t know how he [Riley] could do it, but he showed us it can be done,” said Kaminsky. “That’s why I’m out there. I can show other veterans that we can do this!”

Kaminsky loves his time on the green and enjoys the other alternative activities offered at the TEE Tournament, especially tandem bicycling, but says the camaraderie with fellow veterans can’t be beat.

“You get to meet a lot of people who enjoy the game,” said Kaminsky. “There’s smiles on veterans you wouldn’t see otherwise throughout the year.”

Kaminsky doesn’t make the trek to the Midwest on his own. His wife Maureen joins him and takes advantage of the companion program available to the veteran’s partner or caregiver.

“We drop our spouses off and they are taken care of so we can relax and have fun,” explained Maureen Kaminsky. “I’ve enjoyed it for many years.”

While the companion program provides rest and recreation, it also offers a valuable network for the caregivers and companions.

“It’s surprising when you meet new people and get to talking and compare your lives and they share the same experiences,” said Maureen Kaminsky. “It helps to know you’re not by yourself. It gives you support.”

The TEE Tournament has proved to be an event that benefits both of the Kaminskys, and the pair looks forward to returning every year.

“It’s relaxing for Paul and he gets time with friends,” said Maureen Kaminsky. “I love seeing him have fun.”