East Amherst, NY – Special Olympics New York today announced that the Glen Oak Golf Course in East Amherst, NY will be the official training center of its Erie Golf Club, providing use of the course, equipment and PGA-certified coaches for the program.
The partnership began three years ago when Western New York PGA Professionals had a vision for a local fundraiser to help support and expand the area’s Special Olympics New York golf program. Western New York PGA and their charitable arm PGA REACH WNY have raised $25,000 to benefit the nonprofit in the three years since.
“When Steve Bartkowski heard that our Erie Golf Club had lost its practice facility, he immediately worked to find the club a new home,” said Stacey Hengsterman, president & CEO of Special Olympics New York. “We are so grateful for this growing partnership, which continues to have a positive impact on our golfers, our programs and the Western New York community.
The facility at Glen Oak offers an 18-hole championship golf course, natural grass practice tees and a strategically placed large practice green, including putting and chipping areas. The Erie Golf Club will have a practice schedule consisting of access to the range, the short game area with practice range balls, included by PGA REACH WNY. WNYPGA professionals will become certified coaches with Special Olympics New York and provide on-site lessons. Finally, athletes will have access to WNY PGA golf equipment as needed.
“On behalf of our 300 PGA professionals in the Western New York Section PGA, we are so proud to be able to announce the expansion of our partnership with Special Olympics New York’s Western Region in 2020,” said Bartkowski. “Through the Charity Hockey Classic we have been able to raise close to $25,000 for their golf program over the past three years, and this just feels like the right next step in making a long term significant impact. To host their training program at our new PGA Section Homesite with instruction from our PGA professional certified coaches fits directly in line with our mission of positively impacting lives through the game of golf. With access being a major barrier for golf, we will now be able to provide that to these athletes. I look forward to seeing these athletes training at Glen Oak this summer.”
“We are so very humbled here at Glen Oak to even be considered to host and train some of Special Olympics New York’s golf athletes,” said Tim Fries, Owner/GM/Director, Glen Oak Golf Course. “To have the opportunity to support, develop, and fine tune their abilities at our facility is awesome and inspiring. Golf challenges everyone, but it also teaches great values, as well as being social which is the fun part. We are genuinely excited to get started this summer!” Fries is also a PGA Certified Member and Vice President PGA REACH WNY Foundation Board of Trustees. Purchased in 2018, the Glen Oak Golf Course has now become the facility for the WNYPGA Section Offices, numerous professional tournaments, veteran clinics, PGA Junior League, First Tee of WNY and now a place that Special Olympics New York can call home.
About Special Olympics New York
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020, Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 67,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with more than 170 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.
About PGA REACH WNY
PGA REACH WNY was created by local PGA Professionals in 2010 with a goal of providing support to various organizations within the boundaries of the Western New York PGA Section. Through the game of golf, the Foundation will work to fund programs supporting its mission, including the Western New York Section PGA Junior Golf initiatives and various other underprivileged youth golf programs. The Foundation will conduct and/or support a variety of initiatives that serve the founding pillars: youth, military, and diversity in golf.