By Jim Waller
Whidbey Island’s Dawn Kadolph earned a spot in the first annual Veterans National Golf Tournament by winning one of the eight qualifying tournaments for wounded warriors and veterans.
Kadolph retired as a senior chief from active duty in 2009 after 26 years in the Navy.
She pulled out a close win at Eagles Pride Golf Course at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in south Tacoma on Saturday, Sept. 19, to secure the all-expense-paid trip to the national finals.
The Veterans National Golf Championship is Nov. 8-11 at Pinehurst No. 2 Country Club Golf Course in North Carolina.
The celebrated Pinehurst No. 2 course has hosted more championships than any other in the United States.
This is the first championship for the newly formed Veterans Golf Association, a non-profit organization based out of Pinehurst.
The organization was the brainchild of several wounded veterans who played golf while recuperating at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.
After recovering, the veterans moved to different areas of the country and missed the opportunity to compete regularly.
Forming the VGA gave them and others in similar situations a way to get together and golf in a competitive setting.
Because of golf’s handicapped scoring system, the founders saw golf as a way for wounded warriors to continue to heal while competing on a level playing field with able-bodied players.
The mission of the VGA is to promote integrity, respect and perseverance for veterans and their family members through golf.
Kadolph, a member of the Gallery Women’s Golf Club, was joined at the qualifying tournament by two clubmates, Jerry Crabtree and Jessica Shaffer.
Crabtree narrowly missed qualifying along with Kadolph for one of the 80 VGA championship berths.
The top two finishers at the regional tournament earned slots in the national finals, and Crabtree placed third by one stroke behind second-place finisher Holly Shaffer of San Diego.
“It was extremely close,” Kadolph said. “We all thought Holly was leading by quite a bit, (and) we knew Jerry and I were neck and neck. “
Kadolph won with a net score of 73.
“We all had holes of brilliance and then we had ‘those holes.’”
Kadolph didn’t start playing golf regularly until five years ago.
“Before that I only golfed in the annual Chief Petty Officer Golf Tournament since ‘99,” she said. “Not really any golfing courses in Adak, Iceland or on the carrier.”
Kadolph decided to participate in the tournament because she wanted to “represent the veterans from Washington state in addition to representing all women golfers.”
“I am still speechless that I will be afforded the opportunity to compete in this tournament,” she added. “My goals are to meet all 80 veterans competing in the tournament and listen to their stories of service and, of course, have fun.”
To follow the tournament, visit www.vgachampionship.org.