SAN ANTONIO – PGA Hope – which stands for Helping Our Patriots Everywhere – is the PGA foundation’s flagship military program. The PGA Hope initiative connects golf with Veterans, many with disabilities, and the program is currently being offered locally at the Mac Wylie Golf Center to the benefit of all involved.
A recent San Antonio transplant, Josh Belendez is a member of the Individual Ready Reserve and felt the PGA Hope program would be a great opportunity to meet new people and practice a sport he enjoys.
“For me that’s a really good release just being able to talk to people and like relax and just like enjoy being outside instead of just sitting inside with your thoughts and then you’re actually trying to get better at something too,” he said. “I think golf is a tremendous outlet. I feel like a lot of the people in the military like challenges and maybe if you have golfed, golf is literally always a challenge.”
Mac Wylie Golf Center PGA Professional, Jeff Ulrich, secured the funding for two PGA Hope programs in San Antonio this year. The first of the two six-week clinics began June 16th and Ulrich said skills training includes the golf swing, putting and chipping among other competencies.
“Offering a military program for the men and women who have served our country and have served us, it’s just extremely rewarding to be able to see, you know, them either introduced to the game of golf or to, you know, reengage into this game,” Ulrich said.
The lessons are at no cost to the handful of participants that make up the current program – which has been providing physical, social and mental enrichment.
“You don’t get to do stuff like this all the time,” Belendez said. “You know, a lot of people don’t have time and I think it’s cool that they’re making it free to veterans too. I think it’s a good opportunity to also learn. I think it’s great.”
Air Force Veteran Maureen Forbes said PGA Hope has given her an outlet during the pandemic and is helping her achieve her golfing goals.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “Especially because it’s free because golf lessons are extremely expensive. And to get the – there’s only six of us – so they’re getting basically like a private lesson. I needed to get out a little bit more because I’ve been kind of cooped up in the house and I do need a little bit of work on my golfing.”
The next PGA Hope session will be offered in mid-September.