Representatives from PGA Reach WNY, Mike D’Agostino, PGA Head Professional at Penfield Country Club and Tom Maloney, PGA Assistant Professional at Webster Golf Club receive honor from Hank Regal, Hope Recreation Therapy Supervisor for adaptive clinic services.
The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) HOPE (Helping Patriots Everywhere), through PGA Reach WNY, is an established Foundation on the Canandaigua VAMC campus with the goal of impacting Veteran lives through the game of golf. For the last 8 years, local PGA Golf Professionals have partnered with the Canandaigua VA Voluntary Service and Recreational Therapy departments to provide golf opportunities to Veterans of all eras and of diverse abilities, with strategic efforts aimed at enhancing their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.
Together, they are the driving force behind the 12 Professionals who have committed themselves during the February and August 6-weeks adaptive clinics, both inside the Canandaigua Auditorium and on the green VA courtyard. The Professionals set up the physical golf site, complete with inflatables and provide clubs and birdies that limit flight.
In 2018, over 60 participated in the WNYPGA Section. The second week in February, it was reported that nearly 30 Veterans participated in that week’s clinic alone. The Professionals encourage more and more Veterans to participate and have discussed future plans to fund a donation of an adaptive golf cart that would allow a Veteran unable to stand, the ability to golf safely and with more independence. HOPE also addresses the topic of Suicide Prevention among Veterans and their goal to reduce the statistics.
HOPE has an open-door policy for Veterans participating with the mentality, “as long as you wore a uniform, we want you.” Multiple Veterans have been interviewed who speak highly of their experiences, each with examples of how the Professionals and their golf games have personally affected them by building their skills, their confidence, and has also aided their physical fitness journeys. “It’s a sport that keeps us healthy, focused and give us a place to belong. We aren’t hopeless; all skill levels are welcomed.”
When it’s golf day, the Professionals show up energized and open-minded. When a Veteran sets a goal and verbalizes it, the Professionals support them. When a Veteran has a question, they are there to answer it. When a Veteran wants to work independently, the Professionals respect it. When a Veteran needs a stable hand to help with their stance, the Professionals are standing alongside. When a Veteran is looking to share in a success, the Professionals are there celebrating. The Professionals ensure they follow through on both their golf swings and in the bigger picture, on their commitment in providing this quality program to VAMC Veterans.
More about PGA REACH WNY: PGA REACH WNY was created 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.