Originally Published: June 2, 2018 6:03 a.m.
PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is a program under the umbrella of PGA REACH, a 501(c)(3) Foundation of the PGA of America. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PGA HOPE is the only golf instruction program taught by PGA Professionals and assisted by volunteers as a therapeutic program to aid in the rehabilitation process for veterans.
Prior to PGA HOPE, the Prescott area had a disabled veteran golf program initiated by the members of the Club at Prescott Lakes, one in which more than 100 veterans participated.
PGA HOPE adopted several of the practices used by this local program in developing a national program.
PGA HOPE is a free adaptive golf program geared toward veterans with various disorders, including limb loss, spinal cord injuries, PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), blindness and substance abuse, among others, as well as those engaging in social rehabilitation.
Antelope Hills Golf Course and the Club at Prescott Lakes recently completed the first sessions of their 2018 PGA HOPE Programs. Under the guidance of PGA members John Gunby (Antelope Hills) and Stuart Birch (Prescott Lakes), each session goes for two hours each week for six weeks.
Both local golf courses have more sessions scheduled for 2018 and beyond in conjunction with our Northern Arizona VA Clinic, which is very instrumental in assisting this program with their recreational therapists.
During the program, each veteran receives used golf equipment, bags and balls donated by many local golfers. Golf instruction is focused on how to play the game of golf and enjoy being on the golf course. Putting, chipping, pitch shot, bunker shot and full-swing fundamentals are also taught, but the emphasis is on how to play golf in a fast, safe and courteous manner.
Upon graduation, each veteran earns opportunities to play golf at reduced fees throughout the local community and the state. Participating local courses include Prescott Golf Club and Antelope Hills Golf Course.
With the help and generous donations of equipment and monies from our local community, Prescott will continue to lead the way in honoring our veterans and assisting them in their transition back into civilian life through the great game of golf. One recent PGA HOPE graduate, who has TBI and is blind, said, “I turned Mission Impossible into Mission Completed.”