Thirty-two teaching professionals became the students at the PGA’s and Marriott Golf’s H.O.P.E training event, Sept. 11 at the Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix.
The significance of the date was not lost on the veterans and professionals in attendance.
“It was a pretty emotional day for everyone,” said Jim Keane, Senior Director of Operations for Marriott Golf, who helped to organize the training clinic.
H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is designed to keep veterans interested in golf playing the game, in order to embrace their mental, social, physical and emotional well-being. At the clinic the pros learned special techniques for teaching veterans with severe injuries.
“We worked with severely wounded veterans in the program and talked with the PGA about using our sites for these type events,” Keane said. “Marriott Golf has a number of programs to grow and extend the reach of the game and has been involved with veterans in the Wounded Warrior program.”
Dave Windsor, a teaching professional in Florida at his Adaptive Golf Academy, has worked with disabled veterans and made the trip to Phoenix to show his techniques to the teaching pros.
“Dave is a specialist and showed up to teach us how to teach disabled veterans,” Keane said.
The inaugural event in Arizona was to come up with a clinic set up so the pros could take it back to their home courses and run clinics there. Pros from Phoenix, Tucson, Palm Desert, Scottsdale and Prescott attended the event. Three wounded warriors were there “to teach us the nuances of working with a disabled golfer.”
“The pros also used training aids to learn how it felt to swing with a disability, while the other pros practiced teaching techniques on them,” Keane said.
“The veterans said they loved seeing us as teachers becoming more aware of them and thought it was a great idea to get more veterans out on the course. They want people to know there are a lot of people out there living with these types of injuries, and were happy that we were out there to help them.”
“The professionals were overwhelmed with a sense of how tough the veterans were,” Keane said. “We want to serve and the pros said they couldn’t wait to get the program back to the clubs and try it out.”
The veterans wanted the professionals to know how restorative it was for them to be on the golf course, and how many veterans with severe injuries could use the instruction. The professionals will work with local V. A. offices to set up their clinics.
“All the pros came away with the feeling that helping these guys was worth it – and it’s a great way to give back by hosting these clinics,” Keane said.
PGA and Marriott Golf host H.O.P.E. event in Phoenix
By Kevin Duke
Associate Editor – Golf Arizona