by Rich O’Brien
The 99th PGA Championship will be held in Charlotte, NC at Quail Hollow Club from August 10th-13th, 2017. On Sunday, August 6th at 1pm CBS Sports will air a special one hour program called the Road to the PGA Championship which features inspirational stories and programs that PGA members have helped create that improve the quality of life for members of their community.
This year’s broadcast will have a local feel as PGA HOPE Charleston has been selected as one of the feature stories for this year’s program.
The mission of PGA HOPE is to provide a hand up to veterans with injuries, illnesses, or challenges such as loss of limbs, paralysis, TBI’s, and Post-Traumatic Stress. The program is co-sponsored by the VA and the PGA of America. Presently there are 68 PGA HOPE chapters nationwide with the goal of reaching 80 chapters by the end of 2017.
The PGA HOPE Charleston program recently celebrated its’ 2nd birthday and has steadily grown from a handful of veterans in the first series at Wescott to nearly 100 veterans participating at four Charleston area courses (Wescott Golf Club, Daniel Island Club, the Links of Stono Ferry, and Wrenwoods Golf Course). With our local program many veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress have been able to trade nightmares and flashbacks for golf dreams and new friendships. Meanwhile, veterans with mobility challenges have been able to change the trajectory of their lives by being able to stand up and play thanks to the innovative design of the Paramobile. In just two years PGA HOPE Charleston has become not only the largest program, but also the model for the PGA’s flagship military program as well. Perry Green and I receive calls on a regular basis from new chapters that would like help getting started.
From June 8th through the 10th Alanna Campbell and her team of video and sound engineers from CBS Sports visited Wescott Golf Club in North Charleston and Walker Creek Golf Course in St. Stephens to capture video footage and conduct interviews of veterans of the program, as well as Perry Green, Fred Gutierrez, and myself so they could tell the story of how PGA HOPE Charleston began and developed into the inspirational program that it has become.
Two years ago Scott Kmiec of PGA REACH asked Fred Gutierrez and I to champion the PGA HOPE Charleston program. As the program continues to grow it has been wonderful to watch the Lowcountry community wrap its’ arms around the veterans and help provide them with a fun way to improve the quality of their life.
The program would not be possible without the tremendous support that it has received from sponsors such as Bobby Medlen of Hardee’s, Anthony Netto of the Stand Up and Play Foundation, and the City of North Charleston. We would also like to thank the PGA Professionals and the First Tee instructors participating in the program.
The program also would not be possible without the four local golf courses that have stepped up to host the program. Thank you so much to ownership and staffs of the host clubs for providing a warm welcome to the veterans at their facilities.
As we finish our fifth series, recruiting will begin shortly for the next series which will begin in September. We are always looking for additional help from PGA Professionals, physical therapists, veterans, and other concerned citizens. For more information about sponsoring or participating in the program, please give me a call at 843-826-0837.