More than 50 Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers and family members learned the basics of golf at the Fort Belvoir Golf Club, Saturday during an adaptive sports clinic designed to introduce recovering Service members to the game, promote therapeutic rehabilitation and encourage outdoor recreation.
The event was the first session of an eight-week instructional series. Another eight-week session begins in October.
Program with a purpose
The ‘Links To Freedom’ golf program, begun in 2008 by Steve Greiner, PGA member and Golf Club instructor, allows Soldiers to learn and develop skills in driving, putting, chipping and engaging in regulation play.
“We’ve supported over 2,000 Wounded Warriors with golf rehab; it’s been a great experience toward healing our injured Service members and their families,” Greiner said. “They deserve it and the ‘Links To Freedom’ staff is proud to support America’s heroes. The eight-week program takes students from the classroom to the course and provides a lifetime of family fun.”
Greiner, along with Dick Johns, a retired colonel, adaptive golf coordinator and instructor; PGA instructor, Mahrty Lehr; LPGA instructor Kendy Vierling, and several other visiting pros and volunteers provided equipment, tips and advice throughout the event.
Guidance and enjoyment
Greiner started the day discussing L2F’s origins and goals, thanking volunteers, and going over safety considerations. The golfers then visited three “stations”—the driving range, the putting green and the chipping area—where the pros gave pointers on club selection, proper gripping techniques, stroke development and refining accuracy with eye-hand coordination.
For the participants, the event proved enjoyable and instructionally invaluable.
“I enjoy it,” said Amelia Rykard. “This is my first time doing this program and, so far, so good. I’m learning a little bit every time and, when I drive past this Golf Club, I’m interested in what all is going on there.”
“It’s a great program, especially the instructors,” added Major Bryant, Fort Belvoir WTB. “I’ve been playing for a while but (LPGA instructor, Kendy Vierling) showed me some small adjustments to my grip at the wrist and it made all the difference. Plus, we’ve got a great course here.”
For other Wounded Warrior golfers, the L2F program not only provides great lessons but gives them chances to refine those new skills.
“I love this,” said Pam Thompson-Yancey. “I need all the practice I can get.”
For information about the Wounded Soldier Golf program, call the Golf Club at 703-806-5878 or go to https://www.linkstofreedom.org.