Veteran Golfers Association: How Golf Helped These Wounded Vets

Tuesday November 10th, 2015
Spc. Sean Lewis watches his ball at Olney Golf Park in Olney, Maryland, where wounded soldiers can hit golf balls for free.
Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post

This Veterans Day, a group of former soldiers will be celebrating in a novel way: with a national golf tournament specifically for them. Amid the parades and speeches and commemorations, this inaugural event -- held at Pinehurst in North Carolina -- is something different, a chance for veterans to compete.

The Veteran Golfers Association started as a group of wounded veterans who played at courses near the hospital at Walter Reed, where they were recuperating from wartime injuries. Among them was retired Army Capt. Joshua Peyton, who saw the positive effects that golf had on his recovery process after being injured in Iraq.

"Golf has really allowed me to become whole again," Peyton told USA Today. The final day of the VGA National Championship kicks off Wednesday.

Today the VGA has more than 700 members and hosts events for them throughout the year. Aside from the camaraderie and sense of purpose that competitive golf can offer, the sport is also helpful for wounded veterans and amputees as physical therapy to improve balance. For that reason, golf is also popular at the hospitals and medical centers that serve veterans. Some golf courses even offer tee times to former military members for free.

Extra Spin
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Although Peyton has loved golf all his life, many of the veteran competitors in the tournament are new to the game and came to it because of the community or the joy of a challenge. But golf has turned out to be just the thing they needed.

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