Colin Montgomerie traded the greens of Celtic Manor for the sands of Afghanistan last week to visit troops at Camp Bastion, the British military base in Helmand.
The Scottish golfer gave golf lessons and donated equipment to the troops, who have transformed a 300m firing range into a driving range at the base and, according to Montgomerie, followed last year’s Ryder Cup tournament through the British Forces Broadcasting Service.
After visiting Camp Bastion, he travelled to the International Security Assistance Force’s headquarters and played golf on their football pitch, giving swing tips to coalition troops there.
In addition to helping the troops, Montgomerie taught two-dozen Afghan children, who had never played golf before, about the game.
Montgomerie said: “To describe it as life-changing for me is not too strong a term. These kids were born into and grew up in war, it’s been very difficult. It is great to promote the game here to encourage the Afghans to have a team [at the Olympics] in 2016.”
After a few failed attempts and then finally hitting the ball, 15-year-old Masoma Alyari told the BBC she would like to play the game again.
Alyari said: “It’s the first time that I’ve played golf, and it’s really interesting.”
Montgomerie added: “I have been lucky enough to have met a lot of famous people and been on a lot of fabulous trips but this beats them all hands down.”
The victorious former Ryder Cup captain travelled with last year’s Ryder Cup trophy on the trip, organised by the Professional Golfers’ Association of Britain and Ireland.