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Bethesda Country Club To Host Wounded Warrior Tournament

Annual event returns Aug. 20.

— In 2005, Jim Estes, director of golf at Olney Golf Park began teaching injured servicemen and women to play golf — many of them amputees, many with prostheses. He took the job so seriously that he practiced raising his right leg and hitting the ball off his left leg for hours as he tried to figure out the best way for one-legged people to hit the ball.

He was so affected and inspired by these courageous men and women, that in 2007, he founded the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA), a 503-c non-profit which provides golf equipment, lessons and access to golf courses nationwide for wounded servicemen and women. In the six years since the organization was founded, Estes and other volunteer golf professionals have given, free of charge, hundreds of lessons and clinics, forever changing and enriching the lives of our wounded warriors.

On Monday, Aug. 20, Bethesda Country Club will host the 3rd Annual Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament, sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton in partnership with Salute Military Golf Association. The tournament will include breakfast, 4-person scramble golf tournament, luncheon and awards ceremony. Prizes will be presented for team low net and gross, closest to the pin and longest drive and a raffle will also be held. Attendees are also welcome for lunch only.

This tournament is one of six tournaments being held across the nation sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton and SMGA. All the tournaments will be held in August. More than 400 Booz Allen Hamilton employees will donate hundreds of hours of their time to plan the golf events, volunteer at one of the tournaments or play along-side the wounded combat veterans.

“SMGA believes that the rehabilitative benefits of golf can significantly improve the mental and physical condition of wounded warriors as they recover from visible and invisible injuries and reintegrate into civilian life,” said SMGA Executive Director Gretchen Hamm. “We are grateful to Booz Allen for its enthusiastic support of our mission to provide wounded veterans with playing opportunities, properly fitted golf clubs, and free lessons.”

SMGA Board Member Andy McCann said that the golf tournament at Bethesda Country Club will host 17 wounded warriors: “This spring we had 50 - 60 wounded warriors each week coming out for our clinic in Olney. I am always awed by the spirit and courage of each of these injured servicemen and women. The opportunity to play golf adds a normalcy to their days. The SMGA wants to expand the program nationwide to provide clinics, support and course access when these veterans return home.”

McCann explained that SMGA has developed a training program with Penn State to teach adaptive teaching techniques to golf pros, not only for veterans but for anyone with disabilities. “Golf is a life-long sport with huge rehabilitation benefits and we want to make it available to all our wounded vets.”

Proceeds from this event go directly to the SMGA to provide golf experiences to wounded veterans. The SMGA website states: “The SMGA provides golf instruction, equipment and playing opportunities for combat-wounded American veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the SMGA was founded, they have provided over 250 sets of properly-fitted golf equipment for wounded warriors and offered free lessons to more than 600 combat-wounded veterans.”

Sign up for this event at www.bah4smga.com or by calling Bethesda Country Club at 301-365-1703. Many charity registration options are available including a Gold Registration for $1500 (4 golfers, 1 warrior sponsorship, event recognition), or a Silver Registration for $750 (2 golfers, 1 warrior sponsorship, event recognition.) A foursome is $1,000 and an individual is $250. An individual lunch guest is $100. There are still plenty of hole and breakfast sponsorships available and donations are also encouraged to support this program.

For more information about Salute Military Golf Association, go to www.golfsalute.org.