Disabled vets take part in PGA sponsored golf tournament in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - At San Francisco's Olympic Club, it was not just another round of golf for about disabled 40 veterans.
Many of them say it's more therapy than sport.
"I lose a lot fewer balls because I don't hit it as far," joked Paul Graham, a U.S. Air Force veteran from outside Sacramento who lost a leg.
The vets from throughout northern California are all face challenges, some physical, some psychological. But they came to participate in a PGA-sponsored tournament as part of its program called "Hope," which stands for helping out patriots everywhere.
Former Air Force medic Robert Alexander of East Palo Alto says golf helps him cope with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It can create anger. It can create depression. It can create a lack of sleep. The book is written on how it affects people. And I can say it has affected me in all those ways," he said.
But when those feelings build up golf seems to smooth the rough edges.
"It is one of the best activities we can have. I work with other vets with PTSD. It is helpful for our camaraderie and understanding of the challenges we face, and how we face them in a similar fashion," said Alexander.
Graham, whose injuries occurred from a motorcycle accident as a civilian, says golf helps get him through.
"It's given me something to look forward to. A reason to go out and practice," he said.
But the program adds something more—community.
"It's nice to be around fellow vets who know what you are going through and understand what you are saying," said Graham.
The golf program has chapters throughout Northern California. Organizers said Monday tournament would have attracted at least 100 vets, but COVID forced them to scale it back.
"The program is bigger than just golf itself. It is more the coming together and socializing." says golf instructor Mike Robason.
"It is about feeling special. And I think we need to feel special," said Alexander.