How makeshift golf balls helped Allied prisoners survive notorious Nazi POW camp

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Golf, World War II, and Nazi prisoner-of-war camps do not go hand-in-hand. The game, however, helped Allied prisoners preserve their humanity at the infamous Stalag Luft III.

Run by the Luftwaffe, Stalag Luft III is best known for the famous “Great Escape” prisoner breakout in 1944, which is immortalized in the Hollywood movie of the same name.

Mike Trostel is senior content producer at the United States Golf Association (USGA) and told Fox News that in 1942 the USGA suspended all golf championships for the duration of the war. Golfers’ love for the game, however, continued, even in the stark confines of Stalag Luft III.

“American and British prisoners really wanted a way to preserve their humanity, and a lot of that was through sports, and in particular, golf,” said Trostel. “The German guards in this POW camp allowed the prisoners to build rudimentary golf holes.”

The POWs designed their makeshift golf course using everything from tree stumps to telephone poles for the holes. Trostel told Fox News that the American Red Cross sent golf clubs to the British and American POWs at Stalag Luft III. The Red Cross was not able to send golf balls, however, due to the wartime rations on rubber, and that’s where even more of the soldiers’ ingenuity came in, said Trostel. – READ MORE

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