The Salute Military Golf Association

             Many soldiers have come back from overseas with injuries every year since the start of the military conflicts following September 11th, 2001.  Recently, PBS posed the question, “who is caring for our wounded vets?”  One organization that is doing so is called the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA).  It was started in 2007 by Jim Estes, a professional at Olney Golf Park, and has been using golf as a therapeutic and rehabilitative tool for wounded veterans since its inception.  Estes is a former PGA Tour player, and after his touring career, became a class A teaching professional. 

            The SMGA teaches veterans who have come back from overseas with a range of injuries, such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), amputations, and others.  Among the initiatives of the SMGA, the organization has begun to partner with Penn State University to create an Adaptive Golf Certification to “train the trainers” on teaching golf to individuals with disabilities.  Not much has to change, but the approach does change. 

            Additionally, the organization has developed three different formats for programs to affiliate with the SMGA.  These include a one-day golf clinic that introduces the soldiers to the game of golf.  Another type of affiliation includes a series of individual lessons that usually include 2-hour lessons.  Finally, the longest and most intensive affiliation is an eight-week program with a minimum of 15 people in a program.  These different affiliations represent different intensity of teaching the game of golf, but all stress the benefits of golf; physical, mental, and even social. 

            Since starting, the SMGA has helped many soldiers who have come back from overseas with injuries.  One, in particular, is named Lance Corporal Tim Lang, who lost his right leg overseas.  You can read here for more details about his story.

            Lance Corporal Lang went to the Solheim Cup in Ireland with Team USA to provide motivational support.  He is one very good example of the power of golf.  Golf is a tool that is being used to help not only military personnel but also the more than 50 million civilians in the country (that’s about 1 in 5!).

About National Alliance for Accessible Golf
Dave Barton, PGA is the Executive Director for the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is a coalition of recreational, therapeutic, and golf organizations committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities through the game of golf.

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