VA St. Louis Health Care System
Local golf tournament gets vets ready for national event
Temperatures in the low 50’s, overcast skies and gusty winds made conditions difficult at Sunset Hills Golf Club during the 3rd annual Boots on the Green golf tournament. But in typical military fashion, there were no complaints, only smiles and great shots from the 72 active duty and veteran golfers.
Boots on the Green is a partnership between VA and Scott Air Force Base and an able bodied and disabled military golf tournament pairing active duty personnel alongside veterans. Golfers play a scramble format using the team’s best ball for each shot.
This year, the tournament is also a warm-up event for the National Veterans Golden Age Games in St. Louis that runs May 31 –June 5. Some of the golfers on hand were also polishing up their games in preparation for this nationwide competition.
Virgil Nauman, an 89 year-old U.S. Navy veteran who flew the land-based PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber during WWII, works out three days a week at the Jefferson Barracks gym where he rides the stationary bike for 45 minutes and lifts weights.
Nauman is participating in golf, shot put, discus and javelin at his first Golden Age Games. “Of all the events I’m in, I like golf the most,” said Nauman. This makes sense from a man who plays the game at least once a week and started golfing at age 35.
Marine Corps veteran Phil Belpusi traveled all over the world in the 1950’s as an infantryman and engineer where Japan, China and the Philippines were just some of his port-of-calls. He’s continued that sense for adventure traveling all over the United States participating in the NVGAG. Belpusi was at every golden age games the last four years, including winning the silver medal in shuffleboard last year in Hawaii.
Belpusi was joined on the golf course by his playing partner, 78 year old U.S. Army radio operator Hank Schneiderheinz. He’s been to the golden age games three times and looks forward to this year, especially because the event is here in St. Louis.
“I’ve worked out at JB (Jefferson Barracks) for the last six years riding the bike and doing arm and leg exercises,” explained Schneiderheinz. This, he says, helps him get ready for participating in golf, shuffleboard and croquet at the golden age games. He added “I like all three, but golf’s the best.”
The National Veterans Golden Age Games in St. Louis runs May 31 - June 5 and needs volunteers to help out. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit the website or contact the voluntary service office at (314) 894-6350.