Going for the Green
United Way of Broward County’s MISSION UNITED Connects Veterans to the Joys of Golf
“Many civilians don’t understand veterans and the fear some of us have when it comes to simply getting out of the house. It’s hard dealing with people who have no idea what some vets have seen, lived and done while we were serving our country,” said Michael C., a local veteran.
Enter The First Tee Broward, a nonprofit organization partnering with United Way of Broward County’s MISSION UNITED and local country clubs to offer eight-week golf coaching programs free of charge to all veterans.
“The First Tee approached us three and a half years ago to provide free golf lessons for veterans in Broward County,” said Ryan Bancroft, MISSION UNITED Engagement Manager, “and we’ve been happy to make the connection. The program has benefited the participants in so many ways.” In addition to connecting veterans to a variety of services – including housing, employment opportunities, pro bono legal services and more – MISSION UNITED helps veterans overcome social isolation by presenting recreational opportunities throughout the year.
“With the First Tee bringing us to the game of golf and associating with other vets and golf pros,” said Michael C., “many vets now have the motivation to get out of their perceived ‘comfort zone’ and mix and socialize with others.”
According to Jack Bloomfield, Director of Operations at The First Tee Broward, the golf programs are held at various golf courses in the spring, summer and fall of each year, with 12 to 15 players per class. PGA professionals and First Tee coaches provide expert instruction in the game and the use of adaptive equipment when necessary -- all in an inclusive environment that promotes camaraderie and fun. “Classes are always full and there’s always a waiting list,” Bloomfield said. To date, more than 200 veterans have participated, representing service in all wars.
“The majority of the players are beginners,” said Bloomfield, “but some have played before. We also provide free golf clubs to those who don’t have them, so there’s no expense involved.”
The next sessions for The First Tee begin in October. Click here for more information and to register for upcoming MISSION UNITED events.