Nicklaus-Redesigned Course Helps Disabled Vets
It's a small world. After talking only a few minutes over the telephone with 63-year-old Roger Gatts, assistant manager of American Lake Veterans Golf Course near Tacoma, Washington, I learned he and I grew up only a few miles apart in southern Ohio.
American Lake Veterans Golf Course has been turning heads. In 2004, a group of military veterans began raising money to make this nine-hole golf course accessible and exclusively for veterans with disabilities.
Later, one of the golf course board members had an idea. He called Jack Nicklaus for help in redesigning the golf course for accessibility. "Our board member, Ken Still, had played on the 1969 Ryder Cup team with Nicklaus," said Gatts. "They had been friends ever since. Ken told Jack what we needed and Jack said he would love to do it. He said there would be no charge because of what these disabled veterans had sacrificed for their country."
Gatts himself has PTSD from serving on the demilitarized zone in Korea. He and all the other 215 workers at the nonprofit American Lake Veterans Golf Course are strictly volunteers. They keep course conditions crisp for 3,500 disabled veterans playing golf every year.
Said Gatts, "We have guys missing legs, missing arms. Some are paralyzed, have a traumatic brain injury or have PTSD. We have Vietnam- and even WWII-era veterans. One of our golfers was in the first wave on Omaha Beach on D-Day. A lot of the guys coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan think it's the end of the world to lose a leg or arm, but it's not. They find out life goes on. We help them get back into life through the game of golf. That's what we're all about."
Recent Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry, who lost an arm in 2008 heroically saving the lives of fellow Army Rangers, golfs at American Lake. Another golfer, Jim Martinson, lost both legs and a finger in Vietnam. He won the Boston Marathon wheelchair race in 1981, and has become a bogey golfer.
Many of the golfers use specially made golf carts that traverse accessible sand traps, greens, and tee boxes. Nicklaus has been designing a new back nine and soon will be working on making accessibility improvements to the front nine.
Gatts said, "Nicklaus said he would like to duplicate what we are doing here throughout the nation."
LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.
Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.
Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com
Placer County News HeadlinesNew Nursing Village Ribbon Cutting in RocklinRocklin, CA- Sierra College welcomed their long-running Nursing Program back to the Rocklin campus with a recent Ribbon Cutting ceremony.
Placer County Woman Dies: West Nile Virus ConfirmedPlacer County health officials are able to confirm that an Ophir woman, who passed away earlier this month, did indeed have West Nile Virus (WNV).
3 Teens Arrested in Burglary and Vandalism of Country ClubA Placer County Sheriff's detective apprehended three juveniles Thursday in connection with recent burglaries and acts of vandalism at the Auburn Valley Country Club.
Roseville Author Releases New Book NationwideROSEVILLE, Calif. - The new book "Resonance," a stimulating new book by Roseville author Emily Elaine is now available nationwide.
Genderally Speaking LGBTQ Exhibition in RocklinRocklin, CA--The Ridley Gallery presents "Genderally Speaking", photography by Ron Williams in conjunction with Sierra College Pride Days (November 4-6).
Rocklin History Series Presents Julia Morgan's GoldThe Rocklin History Series continues on November 16, 2014 with a live presentation by Julia Morgan Historian Karen McNeill Ph.D. at 2 pm at the beautiful Old Saint Mary's Chapel
Free Identity Theft Prevention Class in AuburnThe Placer County Sheriff's Office is offering a free identity theft prevention class on Monday, October 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Auburn Justice Center.
Loomis Students to Learn About Pediatric Iron Lung for World Polio DayIn recognition of World Polio Day, Rotary Club of Sunset Loomis will bring a pediatric iron lung to Loomis Grammar School and Loomis Basin Charter School
Esteemed Roseville Historian DiesLeonard "Duke" Davis, considered by many the foremost authority on the history of Roseville, passed away on Friday, October 10.
Michaels Store in Auburn to Open November 16thMichaels, North America's largest arts and crafts specialty retailer, announces the grand opening of its new Auburn store, featuring an inspiring new design, located at 2785 Bell Rd
Janina VanVooren at Patrons Club November 3rd Rocklin, CA - The Patrons Club, a volunteer arm of the Sierra College Foundation, invites the public and those interested in becoming members of the organization to attend
Roseville Men's Tennis Team Edged Out in National ChampionshipsThe men's tennis team from Roseville, Calif., representing the USTA Northern California Section, finished second at the USTA League Adult 18 & Over 2.5 National Championships