FLORENCE, Ky. — As the golf world focuses on Tiger Woods’ participation in the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America’s charitable foundation is focusing on bringing military veterans to the course.
“We’re trying to make their lives a little bit better by letting them have a little more fun on the golf course,” said Ralph Landrum, PGA Master Professional at World of Golf in Florence. “We’re going to do our best to make sure they learn to enjoy the game, that they can go out and have fun with friends, go out and enjoy the weather, exercise, get rid of anything that might bother them.”
World of Golf is one of two Cincinnati-area courses participating in PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), a six- to eight-week adaptive golf experience where veterans receive free hands-on professional training to introduce them to the game or hone their skills.
“On the mental game, it helps me relax,” said veteran Caz Simpson. “When you’re there, it’s like the world melts away and all the problems and life stays at the first hole.”
Locally, North Olmsted Golf Club and Clearview Golf Club near Canton participate in the program. The map below includes information on all participating golf courses:
Simpson participated in the PGA HOPE program last year. A veteran of the Army National Guard, Simpson left the service when he was discharged for medical reasons. He said he fell in love with the game and has since introduced it to other veterans, seeing it as a way to build camaraderie and be active outdoors.
“I think it’s amazing to get veterans to do things, there are a lot of veterans who struggle to find a new hobby or something to do when they leave the service” , Simpson said. “It really gives them something to look forward to, to connect with other veterans.”
On the PGA Reach website, it is stated that “PGA HOPE has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which allows recreational therapists to refer veterans to the PGA HOPE program as a form Through a robust program strategy, PGA HOPE aspires to create a physically and emotionally healthier community of veterans by shaping lives, changing lives and perhaps saving lives through the game of golf.”
Since its inception, PGA HOPE reports that more than 10,000 veterans have participated in the program. Despite the pandemic, more than 4,500 veterans participated at 200 different PGA facilities in 2021.
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This story is part of partner station WCPO in Cincinnati’s Homefront series. See the original story here.