A different life
If King maintains a confident gait along the fairways, it has little to do with her abilities with a sand wedge out of a bunker. She earned her swagger in other bunkers.
This is a woman who can strip down an M-16A1 rifle just as easily as she can strip your wallet of money if you underestimate her off the tee box. She can tell a golf ball in flight to get down just as quickly as she told new recruits to drop in the mud during her stint as an instructor in Army basic training.
“When I was in the military, training troops, that was the most satisfying job I ever had,” King said during a recent round at Spring Lakes Golf Club. “It was also the toughest.”
After growing up in Murray County, King joined the Air Force but left after three years, transferring to the Army.
“I wanted a greater challenge,” she said. “I got it.”
She served with the 82nd Airborne Division, the storied military corps that fought on the fields of France against the Kaiser in World War I, at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, across the desert in the Gulf War and also now in Afghanistan. King served in logistics and supplies and was part of the first wave during the invasion of Grenada in 1983.
“We thought it was just a drill,” King said about deploying out of Fort Bragg, N.C., when President Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion. “When they started handing out live ammo, we knew it was for real. But they pulled me and all of the other women off of the plane. We got locked in a hangar. It was a different time for women in the service.”
Her time as a drill sergeant still holds a special place in her heart, and that’s one of the reasons why she is always willing to help out younger golfers who might need a little help.
“People say golf is a life sport,” King said. “You have to keep learning and teaching if you can. When I was a drill sergeant, I had parents come up to me and ask me how I was able to do in six to eight weeks what they have tried all of their lives to do.”
By the time she was medically discharged in the mid-1990s, Sgt. 1st Class Sue King’s body had given out on her in many ways. All throughout her service in the military — through three different tours of duty in Germany and tours in both Panama and South Korea — she played competitive softball for the Army.
“By the time I got home, I was busted up,” she said. “I took up golf because I needed the exercise, and I developed my softball swing into a golf swing.”
Her body is still beaten and battered, and sometimes it looks to be a labor for her to climb the slopes of the greens with knees seemingly rustier than the hinges on a ‘55 Chevy. But she is still out there chasing birdies and overcoming challenges.