– Name: Bernard (Bernie) Broad
– Occupation: Ex-serviceman – The Grenadier Guards. Now, Vice Chairman of Battle Back Golf and past Invictus Games Captain.
– Home town: Hadfield
In 2009, whilst serving in Nadall, Afghanistan with the Grenadier Guards, the vehicle I was travelling in, was hit by an IED. I sustained injuries to my legs, shoulders and suffered a blast traumatic brain injury.
I was flown back to the UK where doctors fought to save my legs, but nine months later they made the difficult decision to amputate my left leg. After I lost the first leg, I thought everything was going to be ok, but three years later they had to take my right leg too.
To be honest, that was the start of my true recovery as it meant I could come off the painkillers and as a result, I am now a double below the knee amputee.
Golf became part of my recovery in 2012, when I joined Battle Back Golf – a programme which utilises golf to enhance the recovery of wounded, injured and sick service personnel, to offer life-changing coaching. Over the years the programme has proved successful in supplementing the physical, psychological and cognitive rehabilitation of over 200 serving and veteran personnel.
In an electric wheelchair in early 2010, still with two legs, I had a lesson at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre with Occupational Therapist Workshops, with a man called Zeno. He said he was going to get me to play golf, at first I felt insulted and thought it was impossible – but he was telling the truth.
After the loss of my first leg and barely even on a prosthetic limb, he and a professional named Phil started training me. At first I was falling over, I was angry – but then eventually I started to laugh with them and improvement began.
In 2014, I medically retired after 33 years in the Forces. All I ever knew was the Forces. But then, as a civilian, I struggled to adjust. I put on weight and I became very lazy. Civilian life is a very different place. Everyone still expects you to be the person you have always been, but concerned about the future of my health and wealth, I found myself putting on an act and pretending everything was alright to make my friends and family happy.
In late 2019, Battle Back partnered with Trafford Golf Centre. Pete Styles and his team of PGA professionals from Trafford Golf Centre’s Academy teamed up with eight injured service personnel to provide coaching in the lead up to a Ryder Cup style competition which was held at Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have managed two comps to date – but I’m very pleased to say we took the win both times against the Trafford Golf Centre professionals and Dan Walker – famous for BBC Breakfast and a regular customer at the driving range! The victories have been a fantastic boost for our team and we thoroughly enjoyed the days.
We really appreciate the support the Academy coaches have given to the veterans and serving personnel – it’s clearly worked! Anyone who is looking to get into golf, ex-services or not, Trafford Golf Centre is like Disney World or heaven for any golfer. The superb facilities, high standards and technology available really focus the mind to play and enjoy the sport.
Golf has been key to my rehabilitation – both physically and mentally. It saved my life.
It has given back a lot that I felt I had lost. For me, golf fills my day – from preparing and cleaning kit, making new friends, exercising and playing to socialising after practice or a round – it has been fantastic. Ensuring I have my mind tuned into the game really helps me focus and gives me such independence. The physical element and fresh air are additional benefits to improving my health.
The camaraderie and sense of community is something we’re so used to in the armed forces, so it is nice to feel part of something once again. I’m also proud to say my handicap is now 18.8.
As a venue, Trafford Golf Centre prides itself on being inclusive for all and sees customers with a variety of disabilities on a regular basis. From visual impairments to injured service personnel, the Academy team enjoy taking time to introduce new people to the sport, ensuring a fairway into golf regardless of the ability.
The venue is also part of the Chatty Café Scheme, set up to get people chatting and combat loneliness in the local community. So whether you’re a golfer or just passing by to enjoy a coffee, there’s now a designated Chatter & Natter table available Monday to Sunday, 7:00am to 10:30pm in the Cafe and Bar for anyone who would like to chat and ease the feeling of loneliness which so many of us experience.