On a new course: Illinois PGA Foundation, KemperSports offer free golf clinics to help veterans heal

For veterans, integrating back into society after a tour of duty - or multiple tours - can be a difficult and slow process.

Time is needed to heal mentally and possibly physically. Friends and family can't always understand the dark places veterans can find themselves.

Getting back to basics can help - enjoying a hobby, spending time outdoors, companionship over friendly competition.

PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) offers veterans golf clinics that can help them heal from the inside out, giving them encouragement and confidence in a supportive environment.

KemperSports, a golf, sports, entertainment and hospitality company based in Chicago, and the Illinois PGA Foundation have partnered to host PGA HOPE to offer these clinics for veterans and active-duty military.

The free, six-week clinics will be offered at KemperSports facilities in Wheaton, Winnetka, Lake Forest, Bolingbrook and Chicago from May through October.

Veteran participants stand with KemperSports PGA professional instructors during a PGA HOPE clinic at Harborside International Golf Center in Chicago in 2022. courtesy of Gehrig Parker

"KemperSports' commitment to our nation's veterans in and around the Chicagoland area is evidenced by their support to provide PGA HOPE programming at five of its premier golf facilities in 2023," said Carrie Williams, executive director of the Illinois PGA and Illinois PGA Foundation.

"Their team of PGA professionals, who have been specifically trained to teach veterans programs, will bring physical, emotional and social well-being to scores of veterans this summer by introducing them to the game of golf."

Vince Juarez, KemperSports vice president of operations, talks about the clinics and how they help veterans.

Q: What is PGA HOPE?

A: PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America, and introduces golf to veterans and active-duty military to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.

The program introduces the game of golf through a developmental 6- to 8-week curriculum led by PGA professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency.

All programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by PGA Section Foundations, like the Illinois PGA, so the cost of programming is free to all veterans who sign up to participate.

Q: Why was this program created?

A: As it says in its name, PGA HOPE was created to provide golf as a therapeutic tool to help enhance the physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being of our veterans and active-duty military.

It was founded by the PGA of America in 2014 as a way to give back to those who have served and sacrificed for their country, and to use golf as a means to assist with their rehabilitation and reintegration into civilian life.

Q: Why is this program important for veterans?

A: Not only is PGA HOPE designed to introduce veterans to the game of golf, it also provides them with opportunities to socialize and connect with other veterans and serves as a unique and effective form of therapy.

The program has been successful in helping veterans cope with physical and emotional injuries, build confidence, and develop new skills that can be applied to other areas of their lives.

Overall, PGA HOPE is important for veterans because it provides them with a holistic approach to healing and rehabilitation that can help them live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.

"We are so proud of the profound impact PGA HOPE has on every service member we are privileged to serve. Thanks to support from KemperSports, we're now able to reach even more veterans throughout Chicagoland," said Brandy Cain, PGA HOPE national lead.

"It takes a nation to heal our veterans, and by working together, we can find every veteran who needs us and serve them through golf."

Q: How many sites across the U.S. take part in this program?

A: As of the latest update shared by PGA REACH, more than 200 golf facilities across 38 participating PGA Sections in the U.S. host PGA HOPE programming.

KemperSports is proud to be partnering with one of these sections in the Illinois PGA and Illinois PGA Foundation to host free, six-week PGA HOPE clinics at five of our managed courses across Chicagoland throughout the 2023 golf season.

Veteran participants practice chipping during a PGA HOPE clinic at Chicago's Harborside International Golf Center in Chicago in 2022. courtesy of Gehrig Parker

The Illinois PGA Foundation is also hosting five additional six-week clinics at non-KemperSports-managed golf facilities this year as well.

"Supporting our veterans and service members who have given so much for our country is a shared commitment across the KemperSports family," said KemperSports CEO Steve Skinner.

"PGA HOPE is an incredible program, and thanks to the support and partnership of the Illinois PGA Foundation, we're excited to be able to give back to those throughout Chicago who give so much to us."

Q: How many veterans do you serve per year?

A: Nationwide, PGA HOPE serves and impacts thousands of veterans per year. At our five facilities hosting the clinics this year, we will serve 80 veterans, as each clinic is capped at 16 participants to ensure that each participant receives the individualized attention and support they need to succeed and are provided the best possible experience.

Adding in the five additional clinics mentioned above, the Illinois PGA and Illinois PGA Foundation will serve a total of 160 veterans throughout the state during this year's PGA HOPE programs.

Q: Tell us about the clinics specifically. What do participants learn? Who teaches them?

A: Taught by PGA professional instructors trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency, PGA HOPE introduces the game to veterans and active-duty military to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.

Each clinic will cover several aspects of the game, including driving, chipping, putting, and long iron work. The culmination of each clinic also results in an on-course session that will allow participating veterans to put their skills to the test.

Q: How can people sign up to participate?

A: Local veterans and active-duty military can visit to sign up for the clinics being held across Chicagoland and throughout Illinois, or to see the programs being hosted nationwide. Registration is limited due to the participant cap.

Q: How can readers help PGA HOPE?

A: Readers can support PGA HOPE in a multitude of ways, one of the simplest being to spread the word about the program to others who may be interested. This can include veterans, family members, friends, and others in the community.

These programs also rely heavily on volunteers to help with instruction, organization, and other tasks. If you have experience with golf or would like to help in other ways, consider volunteering with the Illinois PGA.

Lastly, as a nonprofit program, PGA HOPE benefits from donations to support the program's continued growth and success. Donations can be made directly to the PGA of America, or through local PGA Sections or golf facilities that offer PGA HOPE programming.


Free, six-week PGA HOPE clinics will be held at the following times at five KemperSports courses throughout the season:

• Harborside International Golf Center, Chicago: 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays, May 24 to June 28

• Winnetka Golf Club: 4 p.m. Thursdays, May 25 to June 29

• Cantigny Golf, Wheaton: 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays, June 20 to Aug. 1

• Bolingbrook Golf Club: 4 p.m. Wednesdays, June 7 to July 19

• Deerpath Golf Course, Lake Forest: 5 p.m. Thursdays, Aug. 31 to Oct. 5

Clinics are free, but capped at 16 golfers. To register, visit

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