MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- A Fightertown Marine recently beat the Marine Corps’ best golfers in the All-Marine Golf tournament held at The Legends Golf Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Sept. 11-17.
Corporal Chris Garrity, an aviation operations specialist for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, outplayed 26 Marines hand-selected from Marine Corps installations worldwide to win the tournament with a final score of 301.
“I really don’t know how I feel about winning, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Garrity said. “Not to sound arrogant, but I expected to win. This is the course I play on all the time, it would have been kind of disappointing not to win.”
Competing against a variety of Marines ranging from lance corporals to majors, Garrity led most of the tournament. The closest player posted a 304, according to James McPartland, the Air Station athletic director.
Garrity, who has been playing for more than 12 years, became interested in golf when he was 13-years-old and his uncle got him a job at a country club.
“It was a combination of my uncle and neighbors,” Garrity said. “I learned about golf working at the country club. Also one day my neighbors invited me to play and I liked it, so I played the rest of the year.”
Soon Garrity’s passion for the game grew into a full-time hobby.
“I liked it so much that I kept on playing,” Garrity said. “Then, I asked my parents for golf clubs for Christmas.”
Garrity continued to hone his skills as a golfer, and in high school, he won a high school invitational tournament.
“That was a pretty big deal,” Garrity said. “I was the only one in my high school to win the invitational. In my life I have only won two significant events, the invitational and now the All-Marine Tournament.”
Before joining the Marine Corps, Garrity had a handicap of .09 and played in the U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifiers, but did not perform well. Currently Garrity has a handicap of 2.7.
“Ever since I joined the Marine Corps my handicap has been higher,” Garrity said. “Those qualifiers served as good experience.”
Trying to balance golf and the Marine Corps is not always easy, but his command has been very accommodating, according to Garrity.
“I don’t play as much as I used to. Before I had a better opportunity because I worked at a country club,” Garrity said. “My command has been very understanding and supportive. When we went on (the Unit Deployment Program) they allowed me to bring my clubs and practice.”
Garrity feels privileged to have the opportunity to play on the All-Marine Golf team for two consecutive years, while others are at war.
“I feel extremely fortunate to play,” Garrity said. “There are a lot of Marines doing Marine Corps things and they don’t have the time to do this. I am very thankful that I have a chance to play golf.”
Last year Garrity placed third in the tournament and did not experience much success in the Armed Forces tournament.
“Last year was my first year trying and my mindset was different,” Garrity said. “I was just focusing on just making the cut. Then I surpassed that goal and really didn’t know what to expect on the Armed Forces team.”
Competing in last year’s tournaments gave Garrity experience and confidence for this year’s tournaments.
“I really didn’t do a whole lot different,” Garrity said. “I think I focused on my short game a lot more than usual.”
Garrity credits two factors to his wins: good shots and home field advantage.
“I hit good iron shots and was very consistent with my approach,” Garrity said. “The whole tournament I only hit two shots in the water and one of them was in the final hole. I got a lot of love from the course, I definitely got some member bounces and rolls.”
In addition to good play, Garrity believes he owes his success to the support from his family and command.
“I have spent a lot of days at the golf course when I could have been home with my family,” Garrity said. “But my wife was very understanding, she even began to play golf with me. Also, I couldn’t imagine my command being more supportive than they have been.”
The Marines in Garrity’s section feel that he deserves the opportunity to play, according to Sgt. Vernon Kemp, the operations chief for VMFA-122.
“He dedicates himself to golf as much as he does to working,” Kemp said. “I am very impressed and I knew he could do it. I am proud of his success.”
Garrity would like to continue competing in the All-Marine Golf Tournament as long as he is in the Marine Corps.
“Wherever I go, if my command allows me to play, I won’t turn it down,” Garrity said. “I feel really lucky that I get a chance to play.”