Some years ago Michael Breed and I teamed up and hosted a golf clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where we introduced injured and disabled vets to the game of golf. From that blossomed the non-profit I established: Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA). At the event, we introduced vets to putting, chipping, pitching and the full swing. Additionally, a large majority of the doctors and physical therapists joined in for an afternoon of fun. Later, I found out that Walter Reed built an on-site synthetic turf putting green for vets to further their golf learning on.
At the event we met 30 vets who enrolled in our SMGA eight-week clinic series in the fall. The wounded vets were very excited to learn they would receive a custom-fit set of clubs if they attended at least six of the eight weeks of the program. Kids and wives are welcome to attend all clinics free of charge as well. I partnered with Disabled Sports USA, which provides weekly transportation to and from the base. Disabled Sports covers facility costs by paying $10 per veteran each clinic to Olney Golf Park. What started as a 10-person clinic eight years ago now averages 75 vets and their families each week. Olney Golf Park provides facility access to wounded veterans for life. As a result, we have vets who will make golf a permanent part of their life. The physical therapists and doctors saw first-hand the rehabilitative benefits of golf, and I was able to capture new students, including doctors and physical therapists, not to mention 11 veterans, who signed up for my Get Golf Ready program. When I started Salute Military Golf Association in 2007, we were the only chapter in existence and since then we have grown to nine chapter locations, including one in Hawaii. By reaching out to military instillations, not only are you growing the game, but you are serving our nation's heroes who have done the same for us.
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