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Days Such as 9/11, Fourth of July Resonate More With Woodard

By Ron Driscoll, USGA

| Sep 11, 2016 | Erie, Pa.

No. 5 match-play seed Dawn Woodard was both proud and surprised by her daughter's decision to join the military. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Home

Dawn Woodard chuckled about the birthday message her husband, Jason, sent to their daughter, Ashli, on her 18th birthday.

“He said that even though she thought she was the adult for 16 of those 18 years, now it was official,” said Woodard, of Greenville, S.C., a three-time medalist in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and the mother of three girls. Woodard secured the No. 5 seed in the match-play draw after rounds of 72-77 in stroke play at The Kahkwa Club.

Even before Ashli turned 18 in July, she made a decision that both surprised and made her parents proud: she entered the Army and is currently training to be a combat medic. She graduated from high school on June 1 and entered basic training on June 8.

“There’s nothing fun about basic training and there’s nothing fun about where she is right now,” said Woodard, 42, of this week’s start of her daughter’s 16-week medic program at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio. “But she knows she has to do it to get where she wants to go. She takes enormous pride in it.”

Woodard and her husband are finding their way along with their daughter as she begins this process.

“We aren’t a military family,” said Woodard, who graduated from Furman University and has won nearly a dozen South Carolina match-play and stroke-play championships. “My brother went to The Citadel [South Carolina’s military college], but he went there to play golf.”

Woodard discussed the awareness brought about by her daughter’s career decision.

“I get my perspective now from having seen the 211 soldiers graduate from basic training, seeing them say the Soldier’s Creed in unison,” said Woodard, who attended the graduation ceremony at Fort Sill in Oklahoma on Aug. 26. “You think about the words in that creed, what they’re pledging to do and how much of it is not about themselves – it’s such a team thing.”

Whether it’s the 15th anniversary of 9/11, which was marked on Sunday, July 4th or Veterans Day, Woodard gained a newfound respect for the commitment by those who serve, particularly after her daughter went through training that included machine guns and live grenades – training for war.

“They have to do it every day in case they need it,” said Woodard. “It’s not just run a few miles and do a rope course. Those people are there every day, and I have a little more appreciation for that than I would have before. We take it for granted and go about our normal lives and they don’t.”

Woodard has a long association with golf, but realizes that everyone finds their own avocation, family influences or not.

“As a parent you almost feel like trying to talk her out of something or into something,” said Woodard. “But you’re not going to do that. You want her to be happy and have a passion for what she’s doing. To a certain extent, I’ve learned a few lessons from her. She thought it through. If she decides at 25 that she hates it and doesn’t want to do it anymore, there would be no way she would know that if she hadn’t done it. Some of us are long past that age and still wondering what they’re going to do with their lives. It’s been an eye-opening journey for us so far.”

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at

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