Paula Creamer left her golf clubs at home when she toured Fort Sill on Thursday.
The U.S.-based Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour keeps her on the road 30 weeks a year. As a professional, she has won 11 tournaments, including nine LPGA Tour events. She has been as high as No. 2 in the Women's World Golf Rankings, and she was the 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion.
Her trip here wasn't about her, however.
"I come from a military family background, and I'm starting up my Paula Creamer Foundation. It's going to be for the military and their families and the soldiers who are deployed. And I wanted to come out, get some education, watch everybody at work here," Creamer explained.
"It's amazing. I thank my lucky stars every day that I'm able to do what I do, because of the men and women who are here. So being able to give my time and just embrace it in a whole new light is something that I'm very lucky I can do," she said.
She arrived here Wednesday evening with her father, Navy retiree Paul Creamer, in time to have dinner with Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence. At 5:30 a.m. Thursday she joined soldiers in Combat Basic Training for their early-morning PT. She then went out on the range to observe a live fire before going to the Confidence Obstacle Course near Quinette Crossing.
Capt. Kapono Aki, commander of C Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery, had 196 basic trainees going through the three main obstacles on the course. The trainees are in week seven of their 10-week boot camp, and this course is a graduation requirement for them. It's the one and only time during basic that they will go through it.
"It's a fun day for the soldiers to build a little personal courage in themselves," Aki said. "It allows the soldiers to build on the Army values they're taught."
Soldiers shouted encouraging words to each other as they took turns on the inverted rope descent, the slide for life and the ladder climb. Aki said that by this point in their training, the soldiers are able to overcome something that was tough for them in the beginning in this case, a fear of heights.
"I've seen a lot in a short amount of time," Creamer said after observing trainees go through all three stations. "It's being around the teamwork and everything around the soldiers and those drill sergeants. It's amazing, just the camaraderie that we all have and becoming one. It really brings you back to a humbling sense of what I do putting a golf ball in a hole at the end of the day.