SHREVEPORT, La -- What’s a great way to have fun outdoors, get active, and challenge yourself? For a growing number of veterans, it's golf. That's thanks to Huntington golf course head pro Reg Adams.
"We just want them to come out and know they're appreciated for what they've done for our country," Adams says about bringing PGA HOPE – Helping Our Patriots Everywhere -- to Huntington. It’s a series of six free lessons for veterans, like former Navy man Randy Campbell.
"Anytime a group is willing to support veterans and help them get out of the house so they have something to do, and teach them so they can learn, that's great," Campbell said.
With the help of Reg, and his brother Scott, a fellow teaching pro and retired Air Force Colonel, Randy’s on his way back.
"I'm a double par golfer and my goal is to get to where I can get under double par," Campbell said of his tendency to score 8 on a par 4, for example.
Campbell is trying to get back into the game after laying off for 20 years – except for those times he tried to teach his daughter, Samantha Bloxom. She's also a Navy veteran taking part in the golf clinic.
"I didn't listen well,” Bloxom said of lessons from her dad.
Now, with lessons at Huntington, she says, "One day I'm gonna try to beat him."
Bloxom was working hard on her swing on the practice tee, as her dad and Adams helped her with alignment and swing path.
"They're very, very good teachers," Bloxom said. "So this is an excellent program. And they're very, very patient to help me learn to make my shots and work on my stances and everything. So and now I can hit it further so I'm very happy."
Curtis Drayden, a Vietnam War veteran who spent 26 years in the Army, was playing what we call Army golf when he first tried the game.
“The ball would go left and right," Drayden said. "When I got to golf, it was like -- duh, yeah, you need some help.
"Now I can get the ball up in the air now and it goes straight. So that's good," Drayden said.
Thanks to lessons from the Adams brothers, Drayden is shooting for a lofty goal – bogey free golf.
"You gotta shoot for the best," he says.
Air Force and Vietnam War veteran Bill Richards says he used to shoot in the 80’s. He’s making a comeback after a rebuilt ankle and shoulder sidelined him.
"I need all the help I can get. That's why I'm here," Richards said. "I'm looking forward to getting back on the golf course and playing a real round of golf. I've got some friends waiting for me to get out there."
Of his military veteran students, Reg Adams says, "They're very intent on hitting that little golf ball. But they understand, some of them, if their age is a little toward the north of you know what, their bodies aren't acting like the way they used to. But they're go-getters. And they love the intensity of it.
"They just know they don't want to go out there if they're not ready. And I think that comes from that military background. If you're going to go to battle, you need to be ready," he added.
Reg Adams wants to grow each clinic. They had one in the spring. They’re in the midst of the summer clinic. And if you’re a veteran who’s interested, look for a fall clinic at Huntington golf course.
Reg and Scott Adams are the sons of a Korean and Vietnam War veteran pilot. Reg says his family's military history is a reason he wants to help veterans get into golf.