In April 2007, U.S. Army Corporal Chad Pfeifer was serving in Iraq when a roadside bomb robbed him of his left leg. Pfeifer was flown to Germany and then to the United States, where he did rehab in San Antonio for 15 months.
And that’s when his life changed.
“I had a guy (approach me) who was missing most of his legs, Christian Bagge, who has become a pretty good friend,” Pfeifer explained on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He came into my hospital room and suggested we get out and go do something just to get me out of the room.”
Bagge suggested golf.
Golf? Pfeifer was an athlete. Pfeifer was a competitor. He played football, basketball and baseball. Golf was never his cup of tea.
He said yes anyway.
“I just fell in love with it,” Pfeifer said. “You hit a couple shots off the sweet spot, most golfers know the incredible feeling. I just fell in love with it and went from there.”
Where he’s gone is pretty impressive. In fact, Pfeifer will become the first veteran amputee to play an an official Web.com Tour event during the Albertsons Boise Open next week.
Pfeifer got the call a few weeks ago.
“I was obviously extremely excited,” he said. “What an honor. . . . I’m excited and hopeful we’re going to make the best of the opportunity.”
Pfeifer has certainly done that – and not just on the golf course.
“There was plenty of times I was pretty depressed,” Pfeifer said of his rehab. “A lot of guys go through that coming back. You start wondering what life’s going to be like moving forward and if it is going to move forward at some point. There’s definitely days of depression and thoughts of suicide. But I was fortunate to have a lot of family support and have loved ones that came down and (visited) me and (kept) me positive. You just got to keep pushing forward. The physical aspect, yeah, you’re siting there, you’re missing the leg. As I got on the prosthetic, the physical aspect wasn’t nearly as hard as the mental side was. Like I said, you’re thinking how you’re going to do it. What’s life going to be like? The mental aspect was tough.”
But golf became Pfeifer’s outlet. He got good. Then he got better. The better he got, the more wounded soldiers told him how much he was inspiring them.
“When I decided to turn professional, it was for two reasons,” Pfeifer said. “One was because I’m a competitor and I love to compete and golf gave me that sense of competition back. So a personal goal was to just see how far I could take it and see the highest level I could compete at. And then the second and probably the biggest goal of playing professionally was just to get my story out there – trying to inspire other guys and use my story and the game of golf as a platform to kind of help inspire guys and help motivate them to help them continue forward and know that they can do whatever they want to, whether they’re missing a limb or struggling with the mental aspect. Just being able to inspire people and get my story out is (what’s important).”