John Carpineta Finds His Calling Helping Fellow Veterans Through PGA HOPE
By Kayla Gutierrez
John Carpineta, PGA
What does it mean to be a hero?
PGA of America Golf Professional John Carpineta can tell you, because he's quite literally a hometown hero.
After discovering golf while serving in the army, Carpineta now dedicates his career to serving Veterans through PGA HOPE and by changing lives through golf in the Philadelphia PGA Section and beyond.
A passion ignited in Augusta
Carpineta, who goes by the nickname "Johnny C," is a Philadelphia native and the PGA Assistant Professional at Bensalem Township Country Club in Pennsylvania, but before that, he was a star football athlete and decorated musician. He worked for and with bands like The Cousins, High Hopes, Esquire Boys, and Bill Haley’s Comets and was obsessed with football and music. However, following high school graduation, he was drafted into the army at the age of 23.
When in the army, Carpineta was stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia. At the time, he had never picked up a golf club in his life abd knew nothing about golf. It wasn’t until his commanding officer, Sgt. Jernigan, ordered him to dress in uniform and attend the 1964 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club that golf would come into the picture.
This would be the first time Carpineta ever set foot onto a golf course . . . but certainly not the last.
“You could say I was a part of the original ‘Arnie’s Army,'" quips Carpineta. "I remember watching him win the Masters and absolutely falling in love with the game. At the time, it was only about 50 cents to a dollar to play, and my fellow soldiers would play golf at Fordon Golf Course under the lights all night long. I never actually played with them, but I always wished I did. I think this was really when my passion for golf was ignited.”
Once he was back home, Carpineta decided to pursue a new endeavor when he joined Bensalem Township as a part-time staff member. Nearly 40 years later, at the age of 64, Carpineta went after PGA membership.
It wasn’t easy, though. When asked about it, he jokes that he was on the ‘PAT Tour,’ taking the Playing Ability Test (PAT) in nearly five different states and at dozens of golf courses. Yet despite many failed attempts, he successfully passed the PAT and was elected as a PGA member in 2003.
Two years later, he made a return trip to Augusta to watch Tiger Woods win the 2005 Masters, this time as a PGA Professional.
“It felt like a true Cinderella story,” says Carpineta. “Going back to Augusta National, this time as a PGA Professional, was something I never would’ve imagined for myself. It’s truly incredible to see how far I’ve come.”
A helping hand for hundreds of Veterans
Now, with 50-plus years under his belt at Bensalem and a PGA membership in tow, golf means so much more to Carpineta — and he's found a unique "Johnny C" way to help fellow Veterans through the game.
Carpineta was instrumental in creating Bensalem’s first-ever PGA HOPE program and now serves as co-chair of the Philadelphia Section PGA HOPE Committee. Through PGA HOPE at Bensalem and programs at other facilities around the Philadelphia Section, the Army Veteran has impacted the lives of over 500 Veterans through organizations such as Amputees and Wounded Warriors, Blind Golfers, First Swing Amputees via Philadelphia Medical Center, First Swing and Next Step programs, and the Eastern Amputee Golf Association.
Carpineta leads and coaches Veterans by providing instructional golf programs, equipment, golf tournaments and outings, and any other resources they may need. His personal military experience allows him to connect emotionally with all Veterans who cross his path.
“Golf can be extremely therapeutic and healing for Veterans. Many of them were wounded in combat or suffer from PTSD, but golf really allows them to heal both mentally and physically. For me, I’m just glad to help them in any way I can.”
John Carpineta, PGA
Carpineta’s work has also brought local and national recognition. He was awarded the 2019 Philadelphia PGA Golf Professional of the Year, three Philadelphia PGA Patriot Awards (2017, '18, '20), the 2015 Philadelphia PGA Player Development Award, and now, he is adding another accolade to his collection: 2023 PGA of America Patriot Award recipient.
And even though it’s Carpinetta’s name on the national award, he dedicates it to everyone else in his life.
“This is not my award; this belongs to everyone," adds Carpineta. "It’s really quite a special feeling that I can’t even put into words. This is just an incentive to keep doing better and wake up every day to make it better than the last. It’s beyond special and something I’d like to share with everyone. It’s not ‘my’ award, it's ‘our’ award.”
Even at 82, Carpineta's carries an unwavering committment to helping his fellow Veterans. He remains a driving force in leading PGA HOPE programs across the Philadelphia PGA Section and is one of golf's strongest advocates.
For Carpineta, however, the greatest reward is witnessing the growth and success of local PGA HOPE programs.
“We went from one chapter at Cedarbrook Country Club to 10 chapters now in the Philadelphia Section. I’ve been here from the very first chapter, and it’s remarkable to see how much we’ve grown,” he adds.
Carpineta's enthusiasm, passion and kind heart continues to touch those around him, inspiring both Veterans and other PGA of America Golf Professionals through the game of golf to this day. "Johnny C" embodies what it means to be a true hometown hero.
To learn more about the PGA HOPE Philadelphia, visit here.