A group of 14 seriously injured US servicemen have arrived in Ireland with their wives and carers for a unique golfing trip made possible by Irish businesses.
THE soldiers who have lost eyes, hands, arms or legs, or suffered traumatic brain injuries serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, have one thing in common: they all play golf.
And during their 11-day stay in Ireland they will play some of the country's most famous courses.
The trip was the brainchild of Linton Walsh, CEO of Golf Digest Irish Tours, who was "stunned" when the Irish hotels, golf course, restaurants and tourist attractions all offered their services for free, along with Aer Lingus, Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.
Linton was so taken by the stories of the war veterans that he decided to try to organise the holiday with the Folds Of Honour Foundation, which looks after injured US servicemen.
"They use golf as part of their rehabilitation to help them get used to prosthetic limbs and their other injuries. Our aim is to give them a relaxing two weeks away from the stress of their daily lives."
Linton says the "golf trip to some of the greatest, most spectacular courses in the world would showcase Ireland and its warm and welcoming people".
The soldiers, none of whom have ever been to Europe, will play some of Ireland's most famous golf courses, including Tralee, Dooks, The Old Head of Kinsale, Ballybunion, Waterville, Fota Island, The European Club, Portmarnock, and Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Dromoland Castle.
Three-time US Open player Jim Estes from Maryland, co-founder of Salute Military Golf Association, is also travelling with the group.
The group will be in Ireland until October 22.