Carl Meyer keeps swing­ing, and swing­ing, for vet­er­ans

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - GARY D’AMATO HARTLAND, WIS. —

It was 4:09 a.m. when Carl Meyer teed off Tues­day, play­ing Chenequa Coun­try Club with a glow-in-the-dark golf ball and dodg­ing fair­way sprin­klers in a mo­tor­ized cart fes­tooned with Amer­i­can flags.

He fin­ished 18 holes be­fore the sun crested the trees and had 36 in be­fore the rest of us had our first sip of morn­ing cof­fee. If you want to play 10 rounds of golf in one day, you can’t af­ford to burn day­light. Or even moonlight.

Meyer, 59, has played a min­i­mum of 100 holes on the Fourth of July ev­ery year since 2008 and has in­creased the to­tal in each suc­ceed­ing year. He played 155 holes in 2015, 162 last year and, on Tues­day, armed with a tube of Biofreeze for his aching back, he played a stag­ger­ing 180 holes, fin­ish­ing at 8:44 p.m.

Im­pres­sive num­bers, to be sure. But here’s what makes his golf quest truly ex­tra­or­di­nary: Meyer has sin­gle-hand­edly raised more than $645,000 for Hire Heroes USA in the 10 years he’s been do­ing this.

“He’s such a great guy,” said John Mat­ter of Lis­bon, a dec­o­rated Ma­rine sniper who did mul­ti­ple tours of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Ye­men and is a three-time Pur­ple Heart re­cip­i­ent. “He’s not self-serv­ing at all. He’s just a good per­son.”

Hire Heroes USA is a non­profit ded­i­cated to plac­ing vet­er­ans in civil­ian jobs. Since 2007, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has helped 17,000 vet­er­ans find jobs, in­clud­ing Mat­ter, who was forced to re­tire from the mil­i­tary after be­ing shot in the carotid artery and nearly bleed­ing out on the bat­tle­field. “I had no idea what I was go­ing to do,” Mat­ter said of his tran­si­tion back to civil­ian life. “I was ter­ri­fied.”

Hire Heroes USA placed him in an engi­neer­ing firm in West Al­lis, and he now owns two busi­nesses and trains po­lice de­part­ments in counter-ter­ror­ism.

Meyer is ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of The Wet­rich Group, a health­care man­age­ment con­sult­ing firm. He did not serve in the mil­i­tary. He does his “100 Holes for Our Heroes,” rais­ing money through cor­po­rate and in­di­vid­ual pledges and spon­sor­ships, as a way to give back to what he un­abashedly calls “the great­est coun­try on earth.”

“There are a lot of people who think I’m nuts,” he said, “but it’s a great cause.”

In the mid­dle of his se­cond round Tues­day, a Chenequa CC mem­ber Meyer didn’t know drove out in a cart to find him, took out his cheque­book and made a con­tri­bu­tion after see­ing Meyer in a live tele­vi­sion shot on Chan­nel 12.

“Thank you for what you’re do­ing,” the mem­ber said be­fore driv­ing away.

Meyer lives just off the 13th hole at Chenequa and also is a mem­ber. The club sup­ports his cause and makes mul­ti­ple carts avail­able to him (the bat­ter­ies die); when he catches up to other groups of golfers, they step aside and let him play through. Meyer counts ev­ery stroke and bends only one rule — if he loses a ball, he drops and plays on with a one-shot penalty rather than go­ing back to the spot of his pre­vi­ous shot.

His 10-year to­tal stands at 1,341 holes. “Knock on wood, amaz­ingly, I’ve never been rained on.”

How­ever, there was one mishap a few years ago. Early in the morn­ing, whip­ping around a blind turn on his way from the 16th green to the 17th tee, he ran head-on into a util­ity cart driven by su­per­in­ten­dent Jim Shaw. “He cat­a­pulted right through the wind­shield,” Shaw said.

Meyer did a triple gainer with a half-twist and made a one-point land­ing — on his shoul­der. The front wheel of his cart pointed side­ways, sug­gest­ing the ma­chine no longer could be driven. A con­cerned Shaw watched Meyer, dazed and bleed­ing from scrapes, stag­ger to his feet. Was he done for the day? Nah. He asked for an­other cart and played 100 more holes.

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