In conjunction with PGA Reach, the South Florida PGA Foundation has completed the second season of PGA HOPE. PGA HOPE (helping our patriots everywhere) is a program designed to introduce golf to veterans in order to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. The program consists of 6 weeks of instruction free of charge from local PGA Professionals.
In the past year, the PGA HOPE program has impacted over 90 veterans in south Florida. This fall, three regions hosted PGA HOPE Programs: Alico Family Golf (Fort Myers), Atlantis Golf Club (West Palm Beach) and International Links of Melreese/ First Tee Miami (Miami). This was the second time hosting the program at Atlantis Golf Club and First Tee Miami and the first PGA HOPE Program on the west coast of Florida was hosted at Alico Family Golf. Each of the Programs saw different demographics of players and the PGA Professionals offered instruction to each student depending on their golf experience and abilities.
This program has seen an incredible impact on not only the participating veterans, but it has also been very rewarding to the PGA Professionals who are able to teach the veterans. PGA HOPE at Atlantis was taught by PGA Professionals Judy Alvarez, Dave McNulty and Jason Brown. Eileen Jones, Chief Recreation Therapist at the West Palm Beach VA, coordinated the program to bring 10-15 veterans. Five former PGA HOPE Participants who participated in the Spring came back this Fall program to learn more and assist with the new participants as “buddies”. PGA HOPE at First Tee Miami was taught by PGA Professionals John Moscoso, Sean Kicker, Jane Schafer and Eric Salomatoff. Christina Dugrot of the Miami VA recruited the veterans and brought volunteers from the VA to assist with the program. One veteran served as a “buddy” who participated in the spring program.
As a result of the first two PGA HOPE Programs, 5 of the veterans created a league and they play every Monday at International Links Melreese. PGA HOPE at Alico Family Golf was taught by PGA Professionals Brian Yarusevich, Kriag Feighery, John Murray, Ethan Fowler, Sara Dickson, Jessica Carafiello and Apprentice Blaine Lytle. Brian worked with local VA Centers to recruit the veterans and the class had a total of 15 participants. As a result of the PGA HOPE Program, Alico Family Golf has offered to host a Monday league on their short course for participants. Thank you to the PGA Professionals and all those involved in the program. We look forward to kicking off our third session next spring.