You know how we all tend to think of professional golfers as pampered little babies? They have the best equipment and the top caddies and they stay in the best hotels and, occasionally, they make a nice shot. But the rest of the time, they complain.
Well, actually, that’s why we’ll all be watching Bryson DeChambeau go at it with Brooks Koepka the day after Thanksgiving in a Whine-Off Grudge Match. We’re just hoping that Bryson doesn’t take his steroid suppressant and he hits a golf ball 800 yards.
But, as it turns out, not all golfers are unpleasant. Indeed, the PGA, the governing body for professional golfers, has all kinds of outreach programs—for youth and seniors and the handicapped—to help promote the sport.
(It’s really strange. I went online to look up the PGA to determine whether it stands for Professional Golf Association or Professional Golfers Association. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Everything just says PGA. I went on the official PGA website and nothing. So, I pressed the “History” button and…nothing. However, I did learn that when the PGA Constitution was written in 1934, there was a “Caucasians only” clause. They got rid of it in 1961.)
One of the really cool outreach programs that the PGA operates is PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere). It’s a rehabilitative golf program that helps thousands of veterans every year. The veterans they serve are living with cognitive and physical challenges, everything from PTSD to amputations.
Back in mid-October, PGA Hope hosted a National Golf and Wellness Week at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Part of the activities that week was specialized training for veterans who would become PGA Hope Ambassadors. And one of those graduate Ambassadors is Tucson’s own Deborah Martinez-Garibay (U.S. Army Sgt. First Class, 2003-2019).
The Wellness Week was sponsored by PGA Reach, the Association’s 501(c)(3) charitable arm. PGA Reach worked with Congressional Country Club to put on the Wellness Week. They brought in a group of veterans, each of whom had graduated from their local PGA Hope programs and had been nominated by their respective PGA sections, to participate.
During the four-day program, these Veterans received advanced golf instruction, as well as training in various facets of Wellness. The golf is just a vehicle for helping to repair the whole person. The participants also received a golf and wellness tool kit that includes everything from golf tips to wellness exercises. The latter can be useful in promoting and sustaining a healthy, active and positive lifestyle.
PGA Hope is a program that is free to all veterans, one designed to nurture and sustain well-being, be it emotional, physical, or mental. Golf can be an extremely social activity and that socializing can foster interactions that can help ease veterans back into everyday life.
Martinez-Garibay has been with the PGA Hope program for five years and has proven to be a real go-getter. People in the program immediately recognized her skill and determination and knew that she would have a positive impact, both on the operation of the program itself and on the many Veterans with whom she would interact. She is described as “a leader in the program, checking in on everyone each week, reaching out to those who miss, and volunteering her time at every class.”
It’s easy to see where this drive came from. In her time in the service, she received a boatload (oops, wrong branch of the service) of medals, ribbons, badges and commendations. Just some of them includes: the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Afghanistan Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Medal, and the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal x3. And that’s just some of them.
In her first few years in the program, she has served the Southwest PGA Section in a variety of ways, including the raising of thousands of dollars in funds, as well as donations of golf attire and shoes. She even managed to have golf clubs donated for use by program Veterans.
Her training during the Wellness Week featured a varied curriculum, with classes on public speaking, mental health and life skills, and stress management. (I’m sorry, in my experience, golf and stress management are mutually exclusive.) Maybe they taught her a secret way to combine them.
They sent a series of photos of those who were named Ambassadors. It’s fun to go through the photos and see whose names match the faces. There’s this one guy, the Ambassador for South Central (not THAT South Central!) whose name is Waco Blakley. The guy looks like his chin is made out of Legos.
Henceforth, Deborah Martinez-Garibay will officially be the PGA Hope Ambassador for the Southwest. We applaud her record and look forward to her future accomplishments.
EXTRA POINTS: Canyon Del Oro’s five-game winning streak came to a halt Friday night when they dropped a 28-6 verdict to visiting Casa Grande. After an 0-3 start, the Dorados had put themselves into position to perhaps steal a spot in the state playoffs, but the loss to undefeated Casa Grande will probably keep CDO at home come playoff time… Another team that saw its playoff hopes dashed was Amphi, which was upset at home by Empire, 27-7… Marana raised its record to 7-1 with a 55-0 win at Nogales. The Tigers have home games with Cienega and Ironwood Ridge remaining. It they win both of them, that should be enough to secure a first-round home game in the state playoffs… Mountain View won its second game in three weeks, hammering Cholla, 63-7. Earlier in the season, the Mountain Lions lost a 1-point game to Marana, then lost by 3 to state tournament-bound Millennium, then by 6 points last week to third-ranked Desert View. They were this close to having a winning season and making it to state… Ironwood Ridge, currently clinging to the last spot in the state playoffs, evened its season record at 4-4 with a 63-0 thrashing of Rincon/University. The Nighthawks might need to win their season finale at Marana to make it to state… Finally, the undefeated CDO volleyball team enters the state tournament today ranked No. 1 in the state in 4A.