A few years ago I had the privilege of listening to Jim Sims make a presentation to the Northwest Golf Media Association, of which I am a member, regarding fundraising efforts being made for the America Lake Veterans Golf Course. The nine hole course is funded and staffed entirely by volunteers, exists primarily for veterans, but is particularly suitable for injured veterans, even those who have lost limbs. The organization was raising funds to acquire the land and build a new nine holes, with the design work already having been donated by Jack Nicklaus Design. Mr. Sims made a compelling case, and I walked out of our meeting and directly over to the ALVGC booth at the Seattle Golf Show to see how I could help. At the booth I met Jim Martinson, about as inspiring an individual as you will encounter. Mr. Martinson lost both legs above the knee in Vietnam in 1968, but it hardly seems to have slowed him down. He started competing in wheelchair races (first place in the 1981 Boston Marathon), developed a monoski so he and others could ski, developed a wheelchair for tennis and basketball, and later took up golf. His list of accomplishments, trophies, honors, and awards is simply too numerous to list here. But he is frequently seen at ALVGC, playing golf and inspiring others.
In fact, looking over the bios of the Board of Directors of the ALVGC is fairly daunting. An amazingly accomplished group of veterans, retired Generals, business people, and others who have found a cause in which they passionately believe.
And so I started volunteering my photographic services to further their fundraising efforts, and for any other uses they might have. I have to tell you that it is an immense privilege and honor to go there and see what goes on. To see paraplegics playing golf in specially designed golf carts that allow the user to drive into and out of bunkers and greens, but which allow them to compete in a sport as wonderful (and frustrating) as golf, a sport which I deeply love, just moves and inspires me. The debt of gratitude I feel …
The exciting news is that construction of the new nine began last summer, and is scheduled to open perhaps late this summer (see photos). For me, seeing the actual construction of a golf course and everything it entails has been fascinating and illuminating as to why they cost so much to build. The property has gnarly old oak trees, elevation changes, and what looks to be a challenging, scenic test of golf. I will post more photos once the grass starts to come in.