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."
Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.
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 HeadlinesRenewable Energy Job Training for Local StudentsRoseville - More than 25 local students from Sierra College have now gained invaluable hands-on training for jobs in the fast growing field of renewable energy
Placer SPCA waiving Adoption Fees in DecemberRoseville, CA - The Placer SPCA is thrilled to announce that every animal adoption fee will be waived from December 1st through December 31st
New California Laws 2017 - Part 1Roseville, CA - New California laws for 2017. Part 1 includes racial mascots, immigration, tobacco, marijuana, search warrants, mental health and much more.
27th Annual Holiday Craft Fair in Roseville Roseville, CA - The 27th Annual Holiday Craft Fair in Roseville takes place this Saturday at Maidu Community Center.
Roseville Flash Crime Report: Mail Theft on the RiseRoseville, CA - The Roseville Police Department's public police activity report for the period covering November 15-28, 2016.
Football Championship West in Roseville and RocklinRoseville, CA - The Football University (FBU) National Championship West region games will take place on Dec. 2-5 in Roseville and Rocklin.
Local Businesses Warned About Potential ScamThe California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is warning ABC licensees and the public of a possible scam in both Northern and Southern California involving persons
18th Annual Holiday Show and Sale in RocklinRocklin, CA - The Ridley Gallery at Sierra College Rocklin Campus is proud to announce our Eighteenth Annual Holiday Show and Sale
Volunteer for Elves for the ElderlySeniors First, a Placer County non-profit organization focused on providing programs and services for our area's elderly, is continuing their holiday gift program
Children's Christmas Faire in AuburnAUBURN - Santa is high in demand this season but will be stopping by the Children's Christmas Faire for free photo opportunities for 400 local children
Free Band Concert in Rocklin at Sierra CollegeRocklin, CA - The Sierra College Music Department is proud to present the 33rd Annual Sierra College District High School Honor Band Concert
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Tickets On SaleDisney announced that tickets for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be available online starting Monday, November 28th