AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Many golf fans and pros were out on the course today, and not all of them were at Augusta National. Masters champ Craig Stadler spent his morning at Gordon Lakes Golf Course teaching troops some of his secrets to success.
Nicknamed "The Walrus," Stadler was scheduled to visit troops at Gordon Lakes last April but had to cancel his appearance because of hip surgery. This year, Stadler says he wouldn't miss an opportunity to visit the beautiful 27-hole course.
"I'm actually hitting some pretty decent shots here! Better than I've played lately out of this stuff! It's just good to be out here."
Stadler won the masters in 1982. This morning he was at Fort Gordon, teaching the sport to a group of soldiers."They're the ones teaching me about life in general- not me teaching them. We're just kind of nomadic entertainers, traveling around hitting a white ball every week. Certainly not doing what they're doing. Not putting our lives on the line."
"A month ago they posted that Mr. Stadler was coming, and immediately I was excited. I'm an avid golfer and thought I'd take the opportunity to come out and meet a pro and get some good tips." Brian Tardiff was one of 150 soldiers lining up for autographs and advice.
Stadler stepped through tips for hitting out of the bunker. "Reading his bio and how good he his short-game wise and bunker wise: it's true. He's truly amazing inside the sand and hitting chip shots," explains Bill Fumai, General Manager of Gordon Lakes Golf Club.
"I'm terrible out of the bunker," laughs Tardiff. "So his bunker tips were very helpful. Hopefully I can incorporate it into my own game somehow."
Stadler says he played 18 holes at Augusta National on Sunday, bringing back a lot of good memories. "It's a very long golf course. A very hard golf course. But just an absolute magical place. I've probably played there 150 times or so in my life and career. And every time I go back in the gate it's like- ah, we're here again. This is cool!"
Gordon Lakes is ranked the Army's number one golf course. It is open to the public. Fumai says public support is essential to keeping costs low for soldiers and veterans who want to play there.