Some Arlington golfers are getting free professional instruction in an exclusive clinic. The catch? You need to be a veteran or active-duty military.
PGA Hope, a joint effort of the Veterans Administration and the PGA, requires instructors to go through specialized training, learning about teaching to a very special class of golfers.
PGA Hope (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) provides a six- to eight-week golf clinic to all levels of golfers, from those who have never held a club to those who have been out of the sport for awhile.
“You deal with individuals of varying skill levels,” explained Arlington Parks & Recreation golf services manager Greg Durante. “We started with the fundamentals – grip, stance, posture, alignment.”
The six two-hour classes started with putting, then chipping and pitching, driving, short and mid irons and at the final class they played a scramble on a golf course.
“We introduced them how to make a tee time, driving a golf cart, etiquette, all aspects of the game,” Durante said.
The eight men and two women who went through the first clinic at Tierra Verde learned more than golf at the weekly clinics, Durante said.
“We were not only teaching them the game, but they got re-engaged with other veterans to reacclimate,” Durante said. “Some are still active duty, some are just returning. That was part of the training that we received. They help you recognize that these guys need to talk to each other. It helps them get back into society. I saw a couple of guys that have established a bond.”
Arlington resident and veteran Paul Goodman brought PGA Hope to their attention, Durante said.
“He saw the program and wondered if we were part of it, so we looked into it,” Durante said.
Adam Jones, a veteran and first assistant golf pro at Tierra Verde, Mike Berneburg, golf pro at Lake Arlington Golf Course, and Durante traveled to Frisco to get the training, so Arlington could become one of the first areas in the country to offer the free clinic for veterans.
They plan to offer the clinic again in the spring, possibly more than one, Durante said. The first clinic filled up fast, he said. Veterans and active-duty military should check with the VA or go to https://www.pgareach.org/services/military to find upcoming clinics.
“I can’t think of a better way of giving back to the game than teaching this program,” Durante said.