Golf legend Jack Nicklaus may have designed nearly 300 top-notch golf courses throughout his career, but none compare to the one he is designing now.
“Right now, it’s my No. 1,” Nicklaus told Seattle TV station KING5 News, when asked where he thinks this latest venture will rank.
The American Lake Veterans Golf Course in Lakewood, Wash., is getting a nine-hole expansion designed by Nicklaus. Known as the “Golden Bear,” the Florida resident is giving away more than $500,000 in expertise to double the size of a course used by wounded veterans for physical and mental rehabilitation, according to KING5.
“It is the greatest place to heal,” Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry said. “People with no purpose and direction who think it’s the end of the world come out here and realize there’s a lot to do, a lot to see.”
Petry, who received a Medal of Honor after losing his arm in Afghanistan in 2008, now
works with wounded soldiers returning home from war. He said the course helps with healing and will be instrumental in saving lives.
Nicklaus said he is glad to help such a worthy cause.
“I didn’t have the privilege of serving my country back in our time,” Nicklaus said. “But I’m having a lot of fun being part of it today.”
Veterans Affairs funding for the course’s operation was eliminated in 1995, but volunteers stepped in, soliciting donations and managing the course. VeteranGolf.org says this of the course’s history:
Shortly after the Second World War, the American Lake Veterans Hospital decided that it would add a golf course to its grounds to benefit the soldiers recovering in their facility. The course was designed as a place of respite rather than rehabilitation, and the special needs of the disabled were not taken into account at the time. Still, it was valued as an asset of the hospital and served patients healing from all types of injuries for many years.
Called the “Nicklaus Nine,” the golf course’s capacity will double with the addition. Over 33,000 golfers played on the American Lake Veterans fairways in 2012.
Watch the video via KING5: