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Volunteers excited about veterans golf course

Post by Brent Champaco on April 20, 2010 at 2:09 pm with No Comments »
April 20, 2010 2:27 pm

Frank Shaver studied the woman’s golf swing as she blasted a shot into a screen that was simulated to be lush fairway today at American Lake Veterans Golf Course.

The student made perfect contact with the ball, at least according to the computer simulation. The screen showed it had sailed a good 150 yards down the middle of the fairway.

“You did it!” Shaver yelled. “Isn’t it amazing when you swing through like that?”

Shaver, a 73-year-old Steilacoom resident and retired Army pilot who retired in 1984 after 25 years of service, says he knows the kind of mental and physical uplift golf can give to disabled and wounded veterans.

He is one of the 167 veterans who teach, operate and maintain the American Lake Veterans Golf Course. They are as excited as the veterans about the site’s $1.3 million Rehabilitation and Learning Center, where offers the simulator, a putting green and other amenities that cater to veterans.

They are also excited about plans to expand the course from nine to 18 holes, an effort that will require raising $3 million but is being led, in part, by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.

After more than a year of construction, the center opened last week. Members of the media toured the center and the golf course today.

I got a second with Gen. John Shalikashvili today. That’s right, the same Shalikashvili who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997.

The decorated general suffered a debilitating stroke in 2004. He lives in the South Sound and uses the course as part of his own rehabilitation.

He is excited about the course’s future.

“I think this is really an exceptional building,” Shalikashvili said about the center. “But what’s more important is that it’s such a great opportunity to play in inclement weather.”

Other specially designed features for disabled and wounded veterans include free use of specially designed carts for those who need them, a buddy system that pairs golfers with assistants who’ll play with them or set balls on tees, as well as sand traps that are handicap-accessible.

And more importantly, all veterans will be welcomed to the course.

“It’s amazing,” Shaver said.

Read more about this story later today or Wednesday’s News Tribune.

American Lake, Lakewood
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