PGA HOPE program gives back to wounded veterans

As the pros get ready to tee off in the PGA Championships, a special round was played by a number of veterans with disabilities.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Golf fever is in full swing in the Queen City.

But before the PGA Championship tees off this week, professional golfers are giving thanks to the veterans who served our country.

The PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program helps disabled vets heal from the wounds of war mentally, physically and emotionally by teaching them to play golf.

Sgt. Major Roy Wilkins, one of the HOPE participants, was a two-sport athlete at Clemson University.

"I was a football player, a basketball player," Wilkins said.

In 1972, he was drafted -- but not to play professional sports -- but went overseas to fight in the Vietnam War. After that, he joined the reserves. 

Wilkins was deployed to Afghanistan.

"George (W.) Bush called in the special forces so I had to go back in," Wilkins said. 

"It was devastating," he added. "I didn't know what to do. I was sort of mad at what happened to me."

In 2004, Wilkins stepped on an IED and lost his right leg. But throughout his road to recovery, Wilkins remained positive; eventually finding HOPE.

"It's awesome because it's a game I used to play before I got injured and it's fun to come play golf," he said.

Teams from three cities hosting PGA Championships, including Charlotte, took part in the Secretary’s Cup at Charlotte Country Club Sunday morning. 

Stick with WCNC.com this week, as we will have team coverage of the 2017 PGA Championship. Click HERE for tickets to the tournament.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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