WBTW: ‘PGA HOPE’ helps disabled Veterans and active-duty military remain social and active

(WBTW) — Tuesday started the first session of the 2024 PGA of America’s ‘HOPE’ event.

A group of 25 veterans and active-duty military members gathered at the Champions Golf Academy in North Myrtle Beach.

The first session of veterans and service members will meet every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the golf course for the next six to eight weeks.

The event was created in 2017 to help service men and women make social connections and gain support and physical activity. PGA HOPE is put on by Project Golf and is a nationwide event.

Project Golf Director, Angel Diaz, said PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of the PGA of America.

Diaz said thousands of veterans and service members have attended this event. All ages, branches, genders, and abilities are welcomed.

Diaz said there are currently 15 PGA HOPE instructors. He said in order to become one, you must have a PGA membership and a separate certification.

“During this adaptive golf training,” Diaz said. “We’re being taught as PGA members and instructors to able to teach veterans who are missing an arm, missing a leg, have no legs, can’t see, and so we’re put in their shoes throughout that whole day, and we’re being taught how we’re going to teach the veterans how to play golf.”

Diaz said Myrtle Beach is currently their largest and fastest growing chapter in the nation. He says there are more than 300 total locations.

Sadly, Diaz said the instructors available in the Grand Strand are limited.

During the event, service members will practice putting, short drive, and chipping.

A veteran who graduated from the program in 2021, Charles Naspinski, said he lost both legs. He said he thought he was never going to be able to play golf again.

“A pro came down here from New Jersey and he had one of these Stand up & Play carts,” Naspinski said. “There was an ad in the paper, article in the paper, well I went over to see him, and he got me started to pick up clubs for the first time in like 2017 I think it was.”

This class of veteran golfers who started Tuesday will graduate on March 19th and another class will begin just a week or two later.

Diaz said PGA HOPE is free for the veterans because of donations and sponsorships.

2051 Golf Academy Way
North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

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Project Golf is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization

Project Golf is a member of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

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