Saturday, September 10, 2016
Jim Dickerson, the 2014 PGA Patriot Award winner, is a PGA Professional at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa.
As a veteran myself, helping those who have served our country overseas is close to my heart. In 2008, I started teaching for the Golf for Injured Veterans Everywhere (GIVE) Foundation, looking to help veterans heal through the game of golf. We cater to those in the Iowa City VA Health Care and the VA Central Iowa Health Care systems. This program is unique in that everything we do, from the clinics to the equipment to the rounds played at the host course (Blue Top Ridge) to the water and snacks before they play, is free to the veterans. We really want to be opening and welcoming to them and not let money be a barrier. Our goal is to give them the ultimate red carpet experience and hope that golf becomes a game of a lifetime for them and they fall in love with the sport.
We have had over 700 veterans and their significant others go through the program to date. As a benefit for their participation in the program, they may come back to any subsequent class to review and/or pick up new golf skills, and they may do so unannounced. We have an average of four to five returning students at each Saturday session throughout the year. Our new classes, every five weeks, are running an average of 20-25 students this year. Students have come to me for lessons after they have completed the GIVE sessions for private lessons. I charge them my standard rates and to date I think I have worked with at least 25 veterans in that capacity. We give out the donated equipment through the GIVE Foundation to the veterans and their significant others as needed. It is theirs to keep. We fit them as best we can with what we have, which is usually pretty close to their needs and abilities. So embrace the veterans in your area. Make their lives better as they recover from the wounds of war and help expand the love of golf to all in your surrounding community.
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Editor's note: The above comments reflect the opinion and experiences of the submitting PGA Professional and are not endorsed by the Golf Range Association of America, PGA Magazine or the PGA of America.