Memorial Day is a time to reflect, to remember, and to honor our fallen heroes. It also marks the unofficial start of summer and for the Western Michigan Chapter of the Michigan Pro Golfers Association (PGA), it means a chance to give back to Veterans.
For the last 64 years, on the day after Memorial Day, the VA PGA Golf Tournament has taken place at Custer Greens Golf Course on the grounds of the Battle Creek VA Medical Center in Michigan.
This year, the beautiful weather cooperated as 38 golf professionals took to the course with Veteran caddies by their side. As is tradition, Veteran patients who volunteer were taught about the game and golf etiquette, in addition to serving as caddies for the pros. The professional golfers also offered a golf skills clinic for the Veterans prior to the start of the tournament. Bill Bales from the West Michigan PGA and Ron Osbourne, president of the Michigan PGA were on-hand to kick-off this long standing event.
“I cannot think of a better way to honor the day after Memorial Day than to have you here giving back to Veterans,” said Edward Dornoff, acting medical center director in his opening remarks. This event is made possible through sponsors and partnerships including PGA, Battle Creek VA Recreation Therapy, Disability Network, Military Order of the Purple Heart, New Level Sports and American Legion Auxiliary, to name a few.
When the golf course cleared, Paul Simonds from the Eastern Hills Golf Club in Kalamazoo was the champion of the event. However, all who participated were certainly winners. The Veterans and golfers smiled as they enjoyed lunch together and reflected on the event.
The PGA partnership with the Battle Creek VA Medical Center extends throughout the year with PGA Project Hope. Project Hope allows Veterans to receive adaptive golf lessons from local professionals. Now, in the fifth year in Battle Creek, Project Hope has helped many Veterans in their Recovery.
Mark your calendars – the PGA will return to the Battle Creek VA Medical Center next year for the 65th VA PGA Tournament the Tuesday after Memorial Day.
Brian Pegouske is a public affairs officer at the Battle Creek VA Medical Center. The communications team at the Battle Creek VAMC works collaboratively to provide Veterans, employees, and stakeholders in southwest Michigan with relevant information about services, events and resources.