In 2002, the Northern Ohio Golf Association (NOGA) Charities and Foundation launched an initiative designed to use golf as a way to help physically disabled individuals restore independence and improve their overall enjoyment of life. The resulting program was aptly named, Return to Golf (www.ReturnToGolf.org).
Return to Golf’s mission is to use recreational therapy, or the combination of golf and rehabilitation-based fitness and conditioning, as a way to help physically challenged individuals gain the greatest degree of independence possible.
Trevor Hazen, PGA, is director of Return to Golf and has worked with the organization since its inception, starting as a volunteer and now heading up the PGA instruction portion of the program.
During weekly one-hour sessions, Hazen and Cleveland Clinic physical therapists work with participants to teach them the fundamentals of golf, relate these fundamentals to their individual abilities, and maximize their golf fitness and playing abilities through customized exercise programs.
The program, which is open year round, also hosts golf socials, offers an OptiShot golf simulator for winter play, makes the course available for open play, hosts a golf league, and organizes several tournaments.
“We not only want our participants to use golf as a way to improve their physical abilities,” said Hazen. “We want to create an environment for them to socialize with others facing similar challenges and help foster invaluable friendships.”
Since its inception, Return to Golf has worked with more than 250 individuals, including those who have suffered stroke, amputation, traumatic brain injury, joint replacement and Parkinson’s.
Playing home to Return to Golf is the Wharton Golf Center, in North Olmsted. The facility offers an indoor practice range and fitness center, and is adjacent to the North Olmsted Golf Club—a nine-hole executive course modified for disabled golfers. — Courtesy, Keith Moehring, PR20/20