November 19, 2016
Ira McGraw Jr. , tthe 2015 Northern Texas PGA Section Horton Smith Award winner, is the PGA general manager and head professional at Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas, Texas.
Over the last several years we've created a partnership with Scottish Rite Children's Hospital to help youth facing illness, disease and disabilities to learn the game of golf. In many other sports across the board we see folks with disabilities thriving. It hasn't been as widespread in golf, but here at Cedar Crest we've begun to understand and provide for this market. Twice each year, we host an afternoon-long clinic with games, competitions and lunch, followed by an awards ceremony for kids with disabilities and diseases. The kids not only are relieved from being out of the hospital, but they truly are beginning to enjoy the game of golf. This year we also began to partake in PGA HOPE to serve our nation's veterans, as our first eightweek program launched this year.
We charge the hospital a very nominal fee to cover food & beverage as well as an extremely discounted rate for my working staff. Over the last four years we've averaged roughly 15-20 kids per event. To see the youth smile and enjoying the game is reward that outweighs any monetary value. As for PGA HOPE, our plan is to run three eight-week programs (meeting once per week). Through support from the PGA of America we are able to provide this program for our nation's heroes. Additionally, we have begun to focus on securing increased funding through corporate sponsors, non-profits and local businesses to enhance our PGA HOPE initiative. Furthermore, a sales representative who retails in my golf shop has vowed to provide all new equipment for the vets to use throughout the eight-week program. Though neither program is a vast money maker, it's our duty as PGA Professionals to grow the game, and there's no better way than through those facing hard times and needing an outlet.
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.