Jack Nicklaus gives military veterans a surprise golf lesson to celebrate PGA HOPE, Giving Tuesday and the holiday season


For the second year in a row, 18-time Major Champion Jack Nicklaus surprised some local military veterans with an unforgettable vacation golf experience at Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida.

To celebrate PGA HOPE, Giving Tuesday and the holiday season, Nicklaus thanked the veteran quartet for their service and educational advice, before sending them out as guests for a fun day out on the championship golf course. designed by Nicklaus.

PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is a national program that introduces golf to veterans to improve their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. The 6 to 8 week program is taught by PGA professionals trained in adapted golf and military cultural skills. All programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by the PGA Section Foundations, so the cost of programming is free for all veterans. Participants in PGA HOPE include veterans living with physical or cognitive challenges, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and amputees, among other challenges.

Among the golfers were US Air Force veteran Hinda Katz of Boynton Beach, Florida; US Army Veterans Devin Shaw and Mary Anderson Kokell of West Palm Beach, and Joelle Kelly of Port St. Lucie. All four are graduates of the PGA HOPE program, PGA REACH’s flagship military program. Bo Preston, PGA of Osprey Point Golf Club in Boca Raton, recipient of the PGA South Florida Section Patriot Award in 2021, joined them for instruction and the round of golf.

Military veterans knew they were going to get a lesson from a PGA pro at Bear’s Club. However, they were unaware that one of those PGA members would be Nicklaus, the only sportsman and the fourth person in history to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal ( 2015) and the Lincoln Medal. (2018).

“It was an incredible surprise,” described Katz, who served as an Air Force captain in the 1980s and 1990s. “They told me to go to Bear’s Club. They didn’t tell me the Golden Bear would be there. I can’t say enough about PGA HOPE. I would be sitting at home if it weren’t for PGA HOPE.

“It’s one of the 5 most important things in my life,” proclaimed Kelly, who served as an E-4 physician and suffers from low vision in her right eye due to macular degeneration. . “No one told me Jack Nicklaus would be here.”

Nicklaus reviewed each of their swings and offered expert advice.

“Jack Nicklaus said I had a good grip,” exclaimed Shaw, a former Master Sgt. in the army. “It was awesome!”

Nicklaus has maintained a longstanding fondness for the country’s military and the incredible sacrifices made by the military.

“It was a special morning for me to go out with all of you,” Nicklaus said. “You have no idea what this means to me and what you have done for our country.”

PGA HOPE has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which allows recreational therapists to refer veterans to the PGA HOPE program as a form of therapy. Through a strong program strategy, PGA HOPE aspires to create a physically and emotionally healthier Veteran community by shaping and changing lives through golf.

Vietnam Veteran Anderson Kokell held back tears as she told Nicklaus what PGA HOPE has done for her and more than 3,500 Veterans each year across the country, some of whom have publicly said the program saved their lives. life.

“PGA HOPE brought people back from the depths,” she explained. The Rehab Golf Program helps veterans reintegrate into their community through the social interaction that the game provides. Led by PGA professionals, it is currently offered in 165 PGA HOPE Chapters across the country. Over 1,200 PGA members have been trained in military culture and appropriate golf skills. “I never served in the army; I was married with children when my time came, ”Nicklaus said. “But I’ve seen everything they do to benefit my life and the lives of all of these people. I still feel strong about it. And it’s a pretty neat program that the PGA of America kicked off with PGA HOPE.For more information on PGA HOPE and to donate on Giving Tuesday and beyond, visit PGAREACH.org.

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