America’s Heroes compete in the PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup

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Less than 15 miles from Southern Hills Country Club, PGA Championship week kicked off with the 2022 PGA HOPE Secretaries Cup at the Indian Springs Club in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Twelve teams comprised of four military veterans and a PGA professional have qualified to compete in the lively nine-hole golf competition that features America’s heroes who competed in the PGA HOPE(Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) hosted by their local PGA Chapters. PGA HOPE, the flagship military program of PGA REACH, is a rehabilitation golf program for veterans and active duty military members that improves their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. It was the first full-field event since 2019.

After opening ceremonies where the Tulsa Warbird Foundation performed a spectacular flyover with P51 Mustangs and Oklahoma military families honored the memory of their lost service members, the New Jersey team was the first to take off .

Led by Pete Stefanchik, PGA Head Golf Professional at Hawk Pointe Golf Club, PGA HOPE New Jersey opened with an eagle on the first hole and never looked back. Joined by U.S. Army veterans David Ryden and Garret Hrynko, U.S. Air Force veteran Jared Forest and Marine Corps veteran Jim Csogi, Team New Jersey won the 2022 Secretary’s Cup, finishing at 7 cents. Csogi, who served 21 years in the Marines, birdied a 14-foot putt on the final hole to give New Jersey its third Secretary Cup title (2017, 2018) since the competition began in 2016 .

Stefanchik, who comes from a military family, cried as he discussed the experience.

“That’s what it’s all about, that’s my major,” he said. “These guys mean the world to me, and sharing this incredible experience with them is so rewarding.”

Hrynko, who served in the military for three years, celebrated with fellow veterans.

Participating teams included PGA HOPE South Central, the host chapter which fielded two teams (Tulsa and Oklahoma City), as well as PGA HOPE Carolinas, PGA HOPE Georgia, PGA HOPE Illinois, PGA HOPE Kentucky, PGA HOPE Nebraska, PGA HOPE New Jersey , PGA HOPE Northern California, PGA HOPE North Texas, PGA HOPE Philadelphia and PGA HOPE West New York.

“They are America’s heroes, and when the uniform falls off, many veterans lose their identity and struggle to reintegrate into society,” said PGA Vice President John Lindert. “This program really gives hope for their future. It’s so gratifying to see the camaraderie and the smiles on the faces of these veterans, whether they’re bombing their drive from over 200 yards straight down the fairway or missing the shot.

Led by PGA professionals, PGA HOPE programs are currently offered at more than 215 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico, 46 ​​states and 40 PGA Sections. In 2021, the program has positively impacted 4,500 veterans, and the goal for 2022 is to serve 7,500 veterans. It is the only adaptive golf program that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which allows VA facilities to refer veterans to the PGA HOPE program as a form of therapy.

The shot of the day came from Team Nebraska PGA Professional Mark Nygaard, who is also a U.S. Army veteran. Nygaard drained a 50-foot birdie putt on the final hole, a significant way to end the Secretary Cup.

As part of the experiment, all out-of-town teams arrived in Tulsa on Saturday and took part in practice rounds on Sunday. Following the Secretary’s Cup, veterans will have the opportunity to attend a practice round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club.

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