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Veterans Day: Annika Sorenstam helps former military personnel play golf

LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam says it's an honor to give back by holding clinics for military veterans
LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam says it's an honor to give back by holding clinics for military veterans
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Annika Sorenstam, as part of CVS Caremark Charity Classic’s charitable mission and in conjunction with Veterans Day on Monday, hosted a golf clinic for former members of the military earlier this month at her Annika Academy in Reunion, Fla.

“I appreciate what some of these wounded warriors have done, how they represent us, and the things they have gone through,” Sorenstam, who participated in a similar clinic two years ago in New York, said in a recent phone interview. “You see the impact golf can have on these people’s lives and it was just a natural thing to help out because I appreciate what they do and this is how I can say thank you and give back.”

The November 1 program, part of a series in partnership with Golf For All, a nonprofit organization that offers such clinics to vets with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges, also featured Massachusetts PGA teaching pro Bob Beach. The long-time head pro at Braintree Municipal Golf Course recently received this year’s PGA of America’s Patriot Award for the PGA professional who demonstrates constant dedication to the women and men who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

“Today is my 73rd free clinic for veterans at eight different golf courses this year,” Beach, who has been on the job at the Boston-area track since 1991, told us about his day working with LPGA Hall of Famer Sorenstam. “I have a real passion for it. I love doing it.”

Beach teaches his students how to relax while swinging the club. He is also an ardent advocate of camaraderie among veterans.

“To get back with military personnel they served with, on a beautiful place, on a golf course, they have a few laughs, hit a few good shots,” Beach said. “It’s what golf’s all about.”

With sunshine and temperatures expected to hit 50 on Monday (not bad for mid-November in New England), Beach would like to invite veterans to celebrate their day at Braintree -- which offers the SoloRider golf cart that’s adapted to meet the needs of golfers with diminished mobility and stamina -- with free rounds of golf in the morning and lessons in the afternoon, between 2 p.m.-4 p.m.

“It’s a little late in the year, November 11,” noted Beach, who welcomed 61 veterans and gave 23 lessons the first year his course hosted former military members. “But sometimes they can have a nice day and it’s just great having the vets.”

Sorenstam is one of several pro golfers, including PGA Tour player Billy Horschel and LPGA star Juli Inkster, who participated in the Rhode Island-based 2013 Charity Classic who are also headlining clinics for veterans. Golf For All is a program of the Northeast Accessible Golf Association, which runs year-round programs for vets and other persons with different abilities.

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