Caldwell native, Iraq vet Chad Pfeifer has his golfing dream in sight

A few days ago, Chad Pfeifer and his family moved back to the Treasure Valley for the summer, intent on making sure his two young boys get to spend time with their cousins.

While family comes first, Pfeifer also concedes the return to his hometown could benefit his golf game.

The 1999 Vallivue High graduate and former Northwest Nazarene baseball player competed in The Golf Channel’s reality show “Big Break The Palm Beaches” earlier this year, earning him a fan following and the nickname “Corporal Clutch.”

Although Pfeifer didn’t win, he said the series re-energized his dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

“One of the questions I had going into the ‘Big Break’ was could I compete with some other guys trying to make it to the tour,” Pfeifer said. “I didn’t feel as though I played my greatest when I was filming the show, and not playing my greatest and still competing with those guys, it gave me a positive outlook and take away from the show.

“My dream is still to make it to the PGA Tour. I’m working hard on my game and trying to take the steps necessary to reach that goal.”

In pursuit of that goal, Pfeifer plans to play the Monday qualifier for the Albertsons Boise Open on July 6 at Ridgecrest Golf Club in Nampa. He also has been asked to serve as grand marshal for Caldwell’s Fourth of July parade, and he’s hosting the Caldwell 4th of July Classic on July 3 at TimberStone Golf Club. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Feherty’s Troops First Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has become important to Pfeifer.

Pfeifer was deployed to Iraq in 2006 with the 509th Airborne Infantrymen Unit, and lost his left leg when the armored Humvee he was driving hit an improvised explosive device outside of Baghdad. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

During his recovery at an Army hospital in Texas, Pfeifer took up golf as a form of physical therapy.

“Golf growing up, I always thought it was an old man’s sport or for people with money,” Pfeifer said. “Obviously I loved baseball and baseball was my sport growing up. Looking back at how my whole life was changed, joining the military and then going to Iraq and getting hurt. It’s crazy to think that I’m a professional golfer now and trying to make it to the PGA.

“I guess just being a competitor and not wanting to give up that sense of competition, that’s probably a big part of it, and golf was just the sport that allowed me to do that.”

Pfeifer and his family moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., in pursuit of his dream in 2010. Pfeifer attended the Golf Academy of America and began playing on a smaller professional tour — the Gateway Tour. He is a three-time winner of the Warrior Open, a tournament for injured veterans, and the 2011 National Amputee Golf champion. Last year, he was invited to play in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Pfeifer led after the first day and finished fifth.

“The first two rounds I just kind of played my game and tried to have fun and play the course, and it worked well.” Pfeifer said. “The third day, I’d be lying if told you that I wasn’t thinking about winning it, holding the trophy up. I kind of got caught up in the moment and just realized where I was at and the people surrounding me, all the celebrities and all-stars in the tournament.”

He was invited to play in the tournament again next month, and appeared on a teleconference call Tuesday with Charles Barkley and Trent Dilfer to promote the nationally televised event.

“Being invited to the American Century Championship (last year) definitely shocked me. I was grateful for the invitation,” Pfeifer said. “I was expecting to play well, maybe not quite as well as I did the first day, but I was hoping to compete. And then after being on TV and being up there on the leaderboard, I had a lot of people ask me about it, and I got to explain to them how much fun it was and just what a great time it was.

“The recognition and the exposure I got being on TV was definitely something different than what I was used to, but it was a lot of fun.”