Nicklaus Pilot Program for Veterans
Golf can be a wonderful rejuvenating gift, especially after sickness or injury. That is important point to remember during this Patriot Golf Day weekend.
Whether it’s Harmon Heroes, Butch Harmon’s charity that helps wounded veterans get their lives back, or David Feherty’s work with the Troops First Foundation, the stars of our game do yeoman’s work to support our servicemen and their families.
Jack Nicklaus has long led the way on that front.
An avid supporter of American service personnel, Jack is now involved in making golf more accessible to those wounded in combat by donating design services to the American Lake Veterans Golf Course in Tacoma, Washington.
Home of the 2nd Ranger Battalion / 75th Ranger Regiment, the Tacoma veterans’ hospital at American Lake built a 9-hole golf course shortly after World War II. In 1995, the VA eliminated funding for the course, so volunteers stepped in and kept the thing afloat. In 2004, the Friends of American Lake Golf Course foundation was founded to fund the course and underwrite plans to improve and modify it to accommodate handicapped as well as able-bodied veterans.
Tacoma native Ken Still, winner of three tour events and member of the 1969 Ryder Cup team, introduced Jack to American Lake Veterans Golf Course, and Jack immediately jumped on board.
"Golf has been a wonderful outlet for the men and women of our military who return from combat, many of whom are disabled," Nicklaus said. "(American Lake Veterans Golf Course) is the only course in America designed specifically for the rehabilitation of our wounded and disabled veterans. You would not believe the stories of how golf has helped these veterans transition back into the mainstream, how the healing powers of golf have given these soldiers purpose, and helped them regain their lives and happiness."
Not only is Nicklaus Design donating services, Jack hopes this will become a pilot program for the more than 150 VA hospitals around the country.