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Last Friday concluded the Veterans Golf Series, a program started by the Rutgers' Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services to teach veterans both golfing and networking skills at the Rutgers University Golf Course, according to Rutgers Today.
A weekly program that started on Sep. 14, student veterans were invited to play a round of golf with Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and Ladies Professional Golfers Association (LPGA) instructors. While learning how to play the sport, the student veterans also built relationships and learned important networking skills both on and off the golf course.
The purpose of the program was to help veterans acclimate to everyday life, provide them with a support system similar to ones they established while serving in the military and improve their career prospects after graduation by connecting them with professionals on the golf course.
Ninety percent of CEOs on the Fortune 500 list play golf, and 80 percent of executives say that the sport allows them to form new business relationships, according to Forbes. While only 20 percent of all golfers are female, half of women holding positions at the executive level say that discussing golf has helped them to advance their career success.
“Golf is a networking sport. The mission is to connect them with guests who own companies and help them land internships and jobs during and after graduation,” said Jose Sagal, program coordinator at the Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services.
Lisa Jensen, a PGA head professional and manager at Rutgers University Golf Course, said that although golf helps veterans to advance their careers, it also provides a calming aspect, which is helpful for veterans trying to get used to everyday life.
“The scenery and colors are relaxing and serene, and it really enhances the camaraderie between the players on the course,” Jensen said. “You don’t develop the same connection with your surroundings when playing tennis, baseball or basketball that you do on a golf course. It can be very therapeutic.”
On the golf course, veterans first meet on the driving range to warm up. Instructors then teach the veterans different physical aspects of the game, such as the full swing, pitching, chipping, putting and bunker play. During the final two weeks of the program, veterans did on-course activities, such as playing a scramble, which is a type of golf tournament, and discussing golfing etiquette, rules and course management.
A hope of the program is that it will grow with assistance from the New Jersey Professional Golfers Association (NJPGA) and modeling of the PGA Hope Program, a flagship military program of the charitable foundation PGA Reach, Jensen said. Not only does the program introduce veterans to the game of golf, but it also shows them how golf can better their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.
“I hope we can grow the veterans event to one of the largest veteran opportunities in New Jersey,” Jensen said.