The City of North Charleston’s Golf Club at Wescott Plantation Has Become the Model for All Municipal Golf Courses

By Rich O’Brien, Alliance Board Member and Operations Manager for PGA HOPE Program, Charleston, SC

The South Carolina Lowcountry has become one of the models of what a community can do when it wraps its arms around Veterans and others with injuries, illnesses, or challenges. A big part of that has been the PGA HOPE Charleston program which has become the largest PGA HOPE chapter and model program for the PGA of America’s flagship military outreach. HOPE stands for Helping Our Patriots Everywhere and, in Charleston, conditions were ripe for developing something really special with three military bases (Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard), the second-largest VA in the Southeast, and a large, retired Veteran population. 

Josh teeing off at Wescott
Josh teeing off at Wescott.

Back in early 2015, when PGA REACH asked Fred Gutierrez and I to champion a PGA HOPE chapter here in Charleston, our first recruit was Perry Green, the Director of Instruction at the Golf Club at Wescott Plantation. We could not have picked a better partner and we are so grateful that he volunteered to host the clinics starting in the summer of 2015. 

The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation is a municipal golf course owned by the City of North Charleston that is managed by Classic Golf Management. Within a few days of being asked, Perry had enlisted the help of Milton Abell, of Classic Golf Management, and Keith Sumney, the Mayor of the city of North Charleston for this critical mission.

The PGA HOPE program has been near and dear to Perry’s heart as his son is a medically retired Army Veteran who served as a combat medic and, like many combat Veterans, battles the nightmares and flashbacks associated with post-traumatic stress. Although his son lives in Colorado, PGA HOPE is a way for Perry to help Veterans like his son. 

Green was honored by the Carolinas PGA section as their 2019 Patriot Award winner and PGA HOPE is his way of serving the Veterans that have sacrificed so much for this country. He adds, “PGA HOPE has become my favorite initiative as a PGA Professional. After a long week, I typically am running out of gas by Friday but I always look forward to being around the Veterans because it fully recharges my batteries.”

When PGA HOPE Charleston first started in Charleston there were only a handful of active chapters nationwide. The PGA HOPE team at Wescott quickly developed the model and began expanding throughout the Charleston area. Now there are five host sites located throughout the Charleston-North Charleston Metropolitan area. The program is proud that it has never turned away a Veteran that wanted to participate. This spring, Wescott will be adding a Thursday clinic in order to accommodate 50 more Veterans. Perry Green’s heart for the Veterans and the fun atmosphere he encourages is a big part of the success of the program. 

The Wescott Group
The Wescott Group

Green feels that “PGA HOPE is one of those programs that you make time for, as its effects are felt far beyond the game of golf for the participants, as well as you and your facility. The Veterans, many of them afflicted with PTSD or life-altering injuries, enjoy the fresh air and camaraderie of their fellow Veterans who can relate to how they think and feel. It is a diversion of the mind for many of them. Some of these individuals once considered suicide – now they consider how to get an extra nine holes of golf in. There should always be time to help them.”

Hosting the program also provides other benefits for host clubs not the least of which is that many of the Veterans in the program are either new to the game or were lapsed players before finding HOPE. And many of these players have now become avid golfers playing on a weekly basis with their fellow Veterans and others which generates additional revenue for the club. Facilitating a PGA HOPE program also provides positive public relations for the club and brings awareness to the community.  PGA Professionals should keep an open mind in considering implementing a PGA HOPE program at their facility.”

Mayor Keith Sumney of North Charleston added, “Like many others in the industry, we aim to maintain a beautiful, challenging, and fun golf course, however, the facilities and programs promoting accessible golf, spearheaded by our Director of Instruction, Perry Green, take the Golf Club at Wescott Plantation to an elevated level. Everyone in the community is welcomed at Wescott, no matter ability or need. The paragolfer carts, provided by Hardee’s, in conjunction with the Stand Up and Play Foundation, continue to be a bright spot at the course and have unquestionably introduced the game to many in North Charleston and beyond.  Furthermore, the careful instruction, care, and compassion offered to all interested in golf continues to proudly be the highest goal of all the staff at Wescott.”

Perry Green added, “I am grateful that the city is concerned about quality-of-life issues and that city leaders had the foresight to know that PGA HOPE would become a huge national program. They have repeatedly encouraged us to do more.”

As you can see, by providing HOPE, the City of North Charleston’s Golf Club at Wescott Plantation has become the model for all municipal golf courses for what they can do to help Veterans and others in their community that have injuries, illnesses, or challenges.  

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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