Veterans find golf, camaraderie par for the course at Pine Meadow
A full house of 108 veterans from the Vietnam, Korean and Gulf wars assembled Wednesday for the camaraderie and a noncompetitive 18-hole round of golf at Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein.
It was the second annual golf "Play Day" for war veterans on a premier course. And, it was a success before the first person teed off.
"That's all we could take," explained Dennis Johnsen, general manager and head PGA pro.
The event in connection with PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) capped the first six-week series of complimentary instructional clinics for veterans at Pine Meadow and 10 other Chicago-area sites.
Breakfast, lunch, a dozen balls and other giveaways for every participant were part of the package, in conjunction with the PGA of America's Operation Hope initiative.
PGA HOPE introduces golf to veterans and active-duty military to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.
"It's really neat to see how the golf community respects our veterans," Johnsen said.
Terry Prince, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, was among the participants Wednesday.
Last year's Play Day at Pine Meadow showed immediate results, he said.
"They started exchanging phone numbers so it's bringing them together," Johnsen said of participating veterans.
"It's an incredibly amazing community collaborative," Lopez said of the Play Day and clinics.
PGA HOPE clinics debuted at Pine Meadow in 2020. Another series is planned this year.
"We did a spring session and we'll do a fall session," Johnsen said.