Over the past six years, the number of PGA HOPE chapters nationwide has grown from a handful to where there are now 173 chapters listed on the PGA REACH website including 15 chapters in the Carolinas section to lead all PGA Sections.
This summer, PGA HOPE Kiawah Island hosted their inaugural Female Veterans Program which is only the second women’s-only program in PGA HOPE following the groundbreaking Clearview HOPE program in Canton, Ohio which was founded by Renee Powell. The Kiawah Island women’s clinics were hosted by Briana Niemann (PGA/LPGA), an Assistant Golf Professional at Cassique at the Kiawah Island Club. Her team included Kiawah Island Club Director of Instruction Carol Preisinger (LPGA), Jenn Weiland (PGA), and Amanda Romano (PGA) from Kiawah Island Golf Resort to provide our female Veterans an exclusive PGA HOPE Program just for them, taught by women.
The idea for this program began a few years ago with a request from Dr. Florence Hutchinson, the recently retired Chief of Staff of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. She saw the positive impact that PGA HOPE Charleston was having for our Veterans in the Lowcountry and suggested the addition of a women’s-only group. The five-week program started with four women Veterans but grew to eight by graduation day five weeks later.
Word of mouth is the best form of advertising and this is what the women are sharing about their experience in the program with their fellow female Veterans.
One of the participants said, "I've been waiting forever for something like this. To have an all-women's program taught by women, it's absolutely wonderful." Another added, "I have never played golf with another woman before. I didn't know others played, let alone would want to play with me. Now I have seven others to play with." While a third summed it up “I’m loving it; I really am. We all enjoyed it. It was just a fabulous experience.”
The reactions from the instructors were also very positive as Jenn Weiland said, "There are no words to describe this program, other than it's a community of women willing to let their walls down and be a part of something bigger. These women are incredible. I'm so grateful for this experience." Meanwhile, Amanda Romano told the ladies, "We wouldn't be able to do what we do, without what you've done. It is our pleasure to be able to give back in this way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."
PGA REACH Carolinas Coordinator, Jessica Asbury added, "The Carolinas PGA is proud to have PGA and LPGA Members such as Briana Neimann, Amanda Romano, Jenn Weiland, and Carol Preisinger that want to give back to those who sacrificed so much. We are very lucky to have these ladies in the Carolinas!"
Briana Niemann added, “This program started with an idea, it was brought to life, and hopefully it will inspire other areas, locations, and chapters to follow suit. There is a demand for something like this, and we can only HOPE that by getting the ball rolling, our Female Veterans everywhere will know they are loved, cherished, and appreciated and that PGA HOPE is in fact for them too. Seeing this program grow from an idea to reality is one of the most humbling experiences I've ever been a part of.”