Michaun Harrison draws a lot of parallels between life and golf.
Sometimes the ball tracks straight down its intended path, like when life goes according to plan.
“But if the ball goes off a different way, or my life takes a different turn, I have to figure out how to get back in it and keep swinging,” said Harrison.
Back in the late 1980s, Harrison’s life was going like a well-hit ball down the fairway. She and her twin sister were in a college ROTC program, planning to become Army officers together.
But, as graduation approached, Harrison’s command inadvertently threw all her paperwork away, thinking they were duplicate records. That’s because the sisters have the same initials and same first three digits in their social security numbers.
The command said their bureaucratic hands were tied by the time they discovered the error. While her sister went on to accept her commission, Harrison’s only option to serve was to enlist.
After basic training, while she was training to become an Army respiratory specialist, she contracted tuberculosis from her roommate. The medication she took caused her optic nerves and retinas to deteriorate.
Harrison’s eyesight continued to worsen over the next several years. She was medically discharged in 2001.
She said she had a hard time handling being legally blind and losing everything she had ever worked for in the Army and the medical field.
“I was on all types of medication just to wake up and to go to sleep, just to stay happy, to keep me from wanting to kill myself,” said Harrison.
It wasn’t until she was introduced to adaptive sports, including golf, at a VA clinic near her home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, that her mindset started changing. She found the competition and the comradery of being around people who understand helpful.
She also gained an appreciation for how intricate and difficult golf was. She began to understand the hype around professional golfers like Tiger Woods.
Woods now serves as her inspiration. He was in a car crash in February 2021 that many thought would end his career. But, just over a year later, he competed on one of golf’s biggest stages at The Masters in Augusta, Georgia.
“I consider him somewhat disabled because he’s had to change the way he plays the game of golf,” said Harrison. “I don’t think he even realizes what he’s done for people like me to say, ‘Okay, I can get back out there and do it.’”
Harrison, a DAV life member with Chapter 7 in Fredericksburg, has been to the National Disabled Veterans Golf Clinic twice. She said she’s most impressed with the volunteers’ compassion.
“It takes special people to be able to pick up on your different disabilities and be patient with you and know how to work with you,” said Harrison.
Harrison’s advice for first-time Golf Clinic participants is, like life, to not let the past define what’s ahead.
“Don’t look at where you’ve been,” said Harrison. “Look at where you’re going. That’s golf.”