Sergeant brings Woodlawn to Iraq

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

In the desert of Kirkuk Air Base in Iraq, golf shoes are combat boots, the fairway and the green are vast desert and sand traps are par for the course.

But an ace is still a hole in one. And out there at the driving range, dubbed “Woodlawn South,” the game of golf doesn’t get any better.

***image1***Woodlawn South driving range, an open field of more than 200 yards long and 100 yards wide, opened this month after Chief Master Sgt. Kenui Balutski sent a note to colleagues stationed around the world: Did anyone have used clubs or balls they could donate? he asked.

 “During our final month and a half here, we are planning to put together some much needed morale activities – like the driving range,” Chief Balutski, whose home station is Lakenheath, wrote in an e-mail to friends.

Karin Anderson, who was stationed with Chief Balutski in Kunsan, Korea, and now is a contractor at U.S. Air Forces in Europe Commander Support Staff at Ramstein, called Ramstein Golf Pro Allan Beck.

“I asked if he would be willing to donate any used golf supplies to Chief Balutski in Iraq and his response was an immediate ‘yes,’” Ms. Anderson said. “Within a few days I had 25 clubs, two golf bags and 65 golf balls from Woodlawn Golf Course in the mail.”

Mr. Beck couldn’t think of a better use for the clubs, bags and balls, he said.
“There are people putting their lives on the line for our country,” Mr. Beck said. “If we’ve got something that will help them have some recreational time, we will help.”

So, out there, in the desert, when there is a spare moment, Airmen are working on form and fun, Chief Balutski wrote in his e-mails and updates to colleagues.

“Most of the folks hit long balls out there,” he wrote. “Woodlawn Golf Course and Ramstein’s Services Squadron (as well as my contact at USAFE CSS/SCBT) are simply awesome.”