Old York Road event connects veteran amputees with golf - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jan 27, 2017

Old York Road event connects veteran amputees with golf

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While working in veterans’ administration 10 years ago, John McCourt played golf alongside an amputee during a charity outing. The experience touched the Old York Road Country Club member.

“I was very impressed with how he hit the ball,” McCourt, 69, of Yardley, Pa., “So I milled it over and thought, ‘Why don’t we do something here at the club? It took a couple of years of talking it up. Finally, the club agreed that we would try to get a tournament for veteran amputees.”

In 2014, Old York Road began hosting a veteran amputee golf outing. The event features a continental breakfast, golf and lunch. The format is four-man scramble, with Old York Road members joining a veteran amputee.

“It’s not a charity event. It’s not even an event to publicize patriotism,” McCourt said. “All we wanted to do is provide a free round of golf and lunch for amputee veterans. We try to keep it as informal as we can.”

“It’s been an uplifting event. It’s fantastic,” Josh Greenbaum, who chairs the club’s golf committee, added. “It’s a great way to give back. To be able to see how these guys play is just amazing.”

Sixteen veteran amputees — nearly doubled from Year One — attended the Aug. 28, 2016 affair at Old York Road. Prizes were awarded to the first three places. Those may change in the future, however. McCourt said he is attempting to raise funds for a more creative master prize piece.

“I want to get trophies made up that have a blade runner leg, a prosthetic leg on the trophy,” he said. “I remember when it was first proposed, some of the members were reluctant. I said the veteran amputees would love it. It would be a conversation piece rather than a dust collector.” He is also hoping to acquire a plaque to commemorate the Old York Road outing.

P. David McKenzie, the club’s head professional since 1978, served in the Air Force and spent two tours of Vietnam. The veteran amputee event holds a special meaning.

“Honestly, for me and the club, it’s the most rewarding golf tournament that we’ve ever had here,” McKenzie, 68, of Spring House, Pa., said. “You’re honoring people that really deserve it. It’s not a popularity contest in the way some things are where you name a tournament after somebody. This is honoring people that fight for our country and our freedoms. These gentlemen sacrificed quite a bit. It’s really enjoyable just to be around them.”

Influenced by Old York Road’s outreach, Tavistock Country Club connected with the Eastern Amputee Golf Association, a non-profit organization based in Bethlehem, Pa., to stage its first Veterans Appreciation Day a year ago. Likewise for North Hills Country Club.

Perhaps more will follow suit.

Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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