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10 Professional Golfers Who Served In The Military

Americans celebrate their military every day, but in honor of Memorial Day, a special day is dedicated to all who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, here are 10 professional golfers who answered the call to serve.

Ben Hogan

The Hawk served in the United States Air Force during World War II, stationed in Fort Worth, Texas. Hogan, a lieutenant, was a utility pilot, and although his service interrupted what many consider to be the prime of his playing career, he went on to win all nine of his majors after the war. 

Jack Fleck

 
 
 
 
 
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Before he bested Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open, Fleck served as a quartermaster, a navigational role in the U.S. Navy. He helped during the D-Day invasion at Normandy.

Horton Smith

 
 
 
 
 
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10 years after winning the first edition of the Masters, Smith was enlisted in the United States Air Force as a first lieutenant. During his service, Smith was assigned to the athletic branch where he organized the army’s athletic projects overseas.

Jimmy Demaret

 
 
 
 
 
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The three-time Masters champion served in the Navy during World War II. Stationed at Corpus Christi, Texas, Demaret did his part to facilitate the war effort, while also getting the opportunity to play plenty of golf.

Sam Snead

 
 
 
 
 
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Like many of his contemporaries, Snead served during World War II. Enlisted in the U.S. Navy, Snead worked as an athletic specialist in San Diego. He was discharged in 1944 after suffering a back injury.

Bobby Jones

 
 
 
 
 
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After retiring from competitive golf following his Grand Slam season of 1930, Jones eventually served in World War II as an intelligence officer. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was a prisoner-of-war interrogator in 1944. Although many other big-name players during the war supported the cause at home by playing in exhibition matches, Jones insisted on serving overseas.

Billy Hurley III

Hurley is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and spent much of his time in service on the USS Gettysburg in the combat electrician division where he was a lieutenant. He also served on the USS Chung-Hoon in the Persian Gulf for two years and taught economics in Annapolis for two more. Hurley won the 2016 Quicken Loans National.

Larry Nelson

 
 
 
 
 
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Nelson was drafted into the army in 1966 as an 18-year-old during the Vietnam War. Two years later, he was deployed overseas where he spent less than three months on the ground before returning home. Nelson would go on to win three major championships following his service.

Lee Trevino

 
 
 
 
 
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The Merry Mex served in the U.S. Marines for four years as a machine gunner. Being promoted to lance corporal, Trevino credits that time in his life as the reason he became a great golfer. He participated in several armed forces events in Asia during his service. 

Arnold Palmer

 
 
 
 
 
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After leaving Wake Forest in 1950, Palmer enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, serving as a Yeoman for three years. During his enlistment, Palmer was able to work on his golf game, and after his service ended in 1953, he went on to win the 1954 U.S. Amateur just before turning pro.

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