FLORENCE, Kentucky — While the golfing world focuses on whether Tiger Woods will compete at the Masters Tournament, PGA of America's charitable foundation is focused on getting military veterans out on the course.
“We try to make their life a little 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 very best to make sure they learn to enjoy the game, that they can get out there and enjoy with friends, get out there enjoy the weather, get some exercise, get their mind off whatever might be bothering them.”
World of Golf is one of two Cincinnati-area courses taking part in PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), a six to eight-week adaptive golf experience wherein veterans receive free hands-on professional training to either introduce them to the game or sharpen their skills.
“On the mental game, it helps me relax," said veteran Caz Simpson. "When you’re out there, it’s like the world melts away and all the problems and life is left at hole one."
Locally, North Olmsted Golf Club and Clearview Golf Club near Canton are taking part in the program. The map below includes information on all participating golf courses:
Simpson took part in the PGA HOPE program last year. An Army National Guard veteran, Simpson left the service when he was medically discharged. 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 outside.
“I think it’s amazing just to get veterans out there to do things, there’s a lot of veterans who struggle to find a new hobby or something to do when they leave the service,” Simpson said. “This really gives them something to look forward to, to connect with other veterans.”
On PGA Reach’s website, it states "PGA HOPE has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which enables Recreational Therapists to refer veterans to the PGA HOPE program as a form of therapy. Through a robust program strategy, PGA HOPE aspires to create a physically and emotionally healthier Veteran community by shaping lives, changing lives, and possibly saving lives through the game of golf."
Since its inception, PGA HOPE says more than 10,000 veterans have taken part in the program. Despite the pandemic, over 4,500 veterans took part at 200 different PGA facilities in 2021.
Click here to look at other locations across the country.
This story is part of partner station WCPO in Cincinnati's Homefront series. View the original story here.