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The City Journals

Winning is not the goal for the West Valley City Veterans Golf League

Sep 09, 2019 01:36PM ● By Darrell Kirby

A military veteran tees off during the Veterans Golf League at The Ridge Golf Club in West Valley City. (Photo courtesy Bryant Boshard)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

For many players, golf can be a frustrating game when the ball doesn’t land in the right place. 

But for some military veterans, that doesn’t matter. Playing golf is a relaxing escape where competition and scorecards are secondary to just having fun on the course with fellow active and former service members. 

That was the thinking of West Valley City Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Day when she had the idea of starting a city golf league for veterans, some of whom are mentally and physically afflicted from their deployment. 

The result, now in its third year, is what is known as the West Valley City Veterans Golf League. 

Every Monday, veterans in the league gather at The Ridge Golf Club on the city’s west side to enjoy a round in a relatively serene setting and fraternize with their friends. 

“Golf is one of the games that really helps them in a lot of different ways,” Day said. “It’s the game, being out on the beautiful course, not a lot of loud noises, and it’s the camaraderie.”

She knows firsthand of the battles being fought by some veterans upon returning home as her husband and son suffer various ailments from their service. “There are times when my husband physically can’t finish nine holes very easily, but he’s still out there” because of the opportunity to socialize with other veterans,” she said.  

Seemingly insurmountable physical disabilities may not preclude some veterans from playing. An adaptive golf cart is available for players to get around and hit their balls even if they are disabled from the waist down. “We want people to know that regardless of their ability level, there is usually a way we can adapt,” Day said.  

An added incentive to play in the league is the discounted fee, well below regular rates. Veterans pay no league registration fee and only $15 to play nine holes (including cart) with $4 going back to the golfers in the form of credits that enable them to buy items at the pro shop. 

“The basis of it is to come out and play golf, to get out of the house and meet up with or make some friends,” said Bryant Boshard, head golf professional at The Ridge. 

A typical week sees about half of the 80 registered golfers hit the links. That number and the length of the season to accommodate them is growing. What started as six weeks of golf has now stretched to six months—April through September. The season ends with a tournament followed by dinner with a featured speaker and prizes. 

While the purpose of the Veterans Golf League is not to be the next Tiger Woods on the course, Boshard said free optional monthly clinics are offered to teach participants the finer points of driving, putting, chipping and other skills. “We want you here. It doesn’t matter what your skill level is—good, bad or brand new.”

Boshard said partnerships with vendors have resulted in good deals for the purchase of gear to give free to Veterans League golfers. One item is a military camouflage golf hat from equipment maker PING. 

A nonprofit foundation spun off from the Utah Golf Association has provided funds for the league. But other sponsors are welcome. “Any time we can get more sponsors or more funds to help offset costs, we can give those savings to the veterans through reduced golf fees,” Day said. 

The West Valley City Veterans Golf League is promoted through flyers posted at city parks and other locations, The Ridge Golf Club website, social media, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, local VFW posts and word of mouth. Residency in West Valley City is not a requirement to play. 

The league has been well received. “We continually get positive comments on it,” Day said. 

For more information, call The Ridge Golf Club at 801-966-4653 or visit www.golftheridgegc.com