For U.S. Army Veteran Ron Robinson, joining the new PGA HOPE program at WaNoa Golf Course has been a pleasant surprise.


Robinson, who has been golfing for 40 years, first heard about PGA HOPE through a fellow Veteran. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) introduces golf to Veterans and Active Duty Military through instructional clinics and course play. The free program at WaNoa is funded by PGA REACH Central New York Foundation.


“A friend from where I used to live told me about it,” Robinson said. “He said he signed up for golf lessons. I found the site online and I couldn’t get over it. I was like ‘Wow, this is wonderful.’ ”


Robinson, who served from 1967 to 1970 as a Meteorological Operations Specialist, is among the three Veterans who are a part of the inaugural PGA HOPE program at WaNoa led by PGA of America Member Mel Baum.


Baum became a certified PGA HOPE instructor this past year. WaNoa’s program debuted in May. Baum’s students arrive at WaNoa every Tuesday morning and, under the guidance of Baum, receive personal instruction. The group then heads to the course to play.


“It’s nice to have friends who golf who are fellow Veterans,” Robinson said. “It’s a small group but it’s great. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty good.”


Robinson, of Baldwinsville, said his golf game is a work in progress. He has enjoyed his PGA HOPE experience at WaNoa.


“I’m still a beginner after playing for 40 years,” joked Robinson. “I have learned the things I’ve been doing wrong all my life. I’ve never had lessons before. I’ve learned a lot from Mel.”


U.S. Army Veteran Nicolle Carman, a first-time golfer, heard about PGA HOPE from a friend. She is a big fan of golf and enjoys watching all the big tournaments on TV.


For Carman, the PGA HOPE CNY program at WaNoa provided the perfect opportunity to get into the game. Carman, of Liverpool, served from 1991-1995.


“I’ve been wanting to play,” Carman said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is every day is different. Every day, I learn something new.”


For Baum, it feels good to be giving back to our Veterans. Baum hopes to expand his program in the future.


“It’s been great,” Baum said. “The club has been very generous and has supported this 100-percent.”


For more information on PGA HOPE CNY, visit our website.