Game Changers

Sights & Sounds From PGA REACH Events at the 2024 PGA Championship

Published on

Along with the 106th edition of PGA Championship played this week at Valhalla Golf Club, the PGA of America REACH Foundation took Louisville by storm when its programs, PGA Jr. League, PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), PGA WORKS and PGA Places To Play came to life as the championship was celebrated. 
From lifelong memories being made amongst Veterans at the PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup, to new connections made at the PGA WORKS’s Beyond the Green career exploration event, the PGA of America REACH Foundation and its mission to impact lives through the game of golf was in full effect this week.
PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup
The Secretary’s Cup, named after the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, is a unique and memorable experience for Veterans and PGA of America Golf Professionals working year-round to positively impact Veterans’ lives.  As the 106th PGA Championship came into view, the ninth annual PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup was celebrated through a weekend of festivities – kicking off with a welcome reception at nearby Churchill Downs, where just a week prior, Mystik Dan won the Kentucky Derby in photo-finish fashion.  PGA HOPE welcomed DIRECTV as a proud supporter of the program to unlock connection and community through sports and entertainment to create belonging and support mental health year-round for active duty military and Veterans.
On Sunday, the weekend continued with practice rounds and ‘Taste of Louisville’ Tailgate reception for the 48 PGA HOPE Veterans representing eleven PGA of America Sections from all corners of the country.  Through laughs, hugs and smiles all around – teams honed their games and prepped for the big day. 
The weekend culminated with a 9-hole scramble tournament where the Veteran teams joined their lead-PGA of America Golf Professional in an epic showdown at the University of Louisville Golf Club.  It was the team from the Carolinas Section that took home the title with an impressive team score of seven-under, 29. Jeff Harris, PGA, a PGA HOPE instructor in the Carolinas Section for six years, led the winning team including U.S. Veterans Joseph Reese (Marines), Kevin Strickroth (Marines), Earl White (Marines) and Thomas Sams (Air Force).

PGA WORKS Beyond The Green
Rolling right into Tuesday of Championship week, the REACH Foundation made its way to Club PGA perched high on a hill overlooking the par-four seventeenth hole at Valhalla Golf Club.  The scene provided a perfect backdrop for PGA WORKS Beyond The Green – a career exploration event designed to to engage students from underrepresented backgrounds with golf industry leaders and innovators.  Held in conjunction with PGA of America Championships, the experience empowers students and attendees with valuable tools for personal and professional success while bringing to light how connections made on the green build success beyond the green.  Local schools and programs in attendance included the Boys and Girls Club, CHOICE (Fern Creek High School), Westend School, Kappa League, First Tee Louisville and Jefferson County Public Schools.  
A highlight of the day included twelve PGA WORKS Fellows from across the country getting to attend the experience.  The PGA WORKS Fellowship is a year-long, paid immersion into a PGA of America Section’s Operations where recent college graduates are offered an entry-level experience and can give a taste of what a career in golf can look like. 
“As a PGA WORKS Fellow, it’s amazing to see all of these events come to life – from PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup to PGA WORKS Beyond The Green and everything in between,” says Kentucky Section PGA WORKS Fellow, Destiny McLeod.  The great thing about the Fellowship is being on the front lines of making the game look more like the rest of the world.  I think that’s my favorite part about being a part of the game.”

Seneca Golf Course Selected for PGA Places To Play Donation
During a press conference on Wednesday, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh announced that the REACH Foundation would donate $250,000 to Seneca Golf Course through the PGA Places To Play program.  
PGA Places To Play is a program created to promote new opportunities that sustain affordable access to the game of golf for people of all backgrounds and abilities.  The donation was also matched by the Valhalla Membership and funds will go towards an improvement project.  
The project includes a renovation of the par 3 course to optimize playability and access, the building of a new indoor practice facility, allowing year-round youth programming and education, upgrading and modernizing the driving range facilities to accommodate increased use and the creation of a new putting course to engage all types of golfer.

Celebrating PGA Jr. League
Finally, on Saturday, we celebrated PGA Jr. League and the generation of golfers.  PGA Jr. League is a game-changing opportunity for boys and girls to experience golf in a team environment led by PGA of America Golf Professionals.  
On PGA Jr. League Day at the 106th PGA Championship, Local PGA Jr. League players and their families from the Kentucky, Indiana and Southern Ohio PGA Sections attended PGA Jr. League Day on Saturday, May 18, during the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla. They got to enjoy the sights and sounds of a major championship and even had special photo opportunities with the Wanamaker Trophy on the first tee. 

To learn more about the PGA of America REACH Foundation or support PGA Jr. League, PGA HOPE, PGA WORKS or PGA Places To Play – visit today.