PGA Hope gives outlet for local vets on the green
SPOKANE, Wash. — Military veterans often return home with daily battles we can never imagine, both physical and mental.
PGA Hope, a military program that seeks to introduce golf to veterans with disabilities, helps to inspire, connect, and enhance the lives of veterans.
“Today we’re at Downriver Golf Course and we’re doing PGA Hope and hope is helping our patriots everywhere,” said Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen.
Military veterans, and golf, was an easy connection made by former marine and golf pro Chris Runyan.
“Five, six years ago I just decided to start using golf as a rehabilitation tool, get them out in the public, get them out seeing this gorgeous property we are on,” Runyan said.
Every good golfer has good stories to tell on the course, but these guys have much bigger stories than the rest of us.
“I was just propelling down a 40 foot tower and a rope got whipped and it threw me 18 feet and I broke my back in three places,” said Brent King.
Physical limitations would usually hold you back on the golf course, but in this program, no problem.
“We don’t care about how you hit the golf ball, just get the metal thing on the rubber thing and have fun,” Runyan said.
The fun is obvious, but so are the improvements.
“When I first started out here I was hitting the ball this way and hitting the ball that way and it just wouldn’t go straight and they’re like here, do the steering wheel thing and I was like oh,” said Seth Cole.
This program is put together to teach the game of golf. But more importantly, give a better quality of life to those that have certainly earned it.
“PTS really sucks and so going out and not having that feeling, not being the scatterbrain mess, it’s awesome,” Cole said.
They have a good time, and do things they didn’t think possible a short time ago.
“Wow you know wow, I didn’t think we’d be able to do more of this stuff, especially some of these injuries we have, it’s a game changer, it really is,” Cole said.
And there’s room for more. PGA Hope is looking for some more injured veterans that want to get out and be a part of something great.
“Get out here and have some good times because we’re all ready to get new experiences and the only way to do that is actually throw yourself out of your comfort zone, so do it, get out here, play,” Cole said.
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