Interview with Chris Nowak

Veteran & Military Liaison PGA of America

Interview – Chris Nowak – PGA

Interview - Chris Nowak - PGA HOPE
( L to R) Nowak is joined by Tom Gilmore, United States Army, 2021 Georgia PGA HOPE Ambassador and Purple Heart recipient (Vietnam War) at Congressional CC during 2021 PGA HOPE National Golf and Wellness Week.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


Background

Chris Nowak is the Veteran & Military Liaison for the PGA of America, responsible for growing all aspects of the PGA HOPE program across the USA. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable Foundation for the PGA of America.


Interview – Chris Nowak – PGA

PGA HOPE is a rehabilitative golf program for Veterans and Active-duty Military, that enhances their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. The HOPE program helps veterans assimilate back into their communities through the social interaction the game of golf provides.

Before his role with the PGA of America, Mr. Nowak was employed in several capacities by the Department of Veterans Affairs for 19 years. Mr. Nowak served his country for 6 years as an infantry squad leader in the United States Marine Corps.

Interview – Chris Nowak – PGA

The Nowak Story

I served my country for 6 years as an infantry squad leader in the United States Marine Corps, then I was medically retired after losing my leg in a training accident.

After my service, I went to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs and served as the National Director of Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events, where I was responsible for overseeing all VA National Adaptive Sports Programs. This is where I found the power of golf as a form of rehabilitation. Getting out on the golf course gave me new hope, and allowed me to forget about my injuries and focus on playing a game.  I know what golf has done for me, and I to want to share that with all my fellow Veterans that are coping with their own physical and cognitive challenges.


Interview – Chris Nowak – PGA


The genesis for the creation of Patriots Day was what?

Patriot Golf Day began as a grassroots fundraising initiative over Labor Day Weekend in 2007, with golfers nationwide encouraged to add an extra dollar to their green fees to fund scholarships for military families. Over the last 13 years, the effort has grown to encompass a variety of fundraising events, tournaments and golf marathons led by PGA Professionals and golfers across America. Today Patriot Golf Days benefits PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) a rehabilitative golf program for Veterans and the Folds of Honor Foundation. 


The total number of people and facilities planning to participate in 2022 is what?

Nearly 700

(L to R) Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, PGA, Founder & CEO, Folds of Honor Foundation; Jenn Stephens, recipient of Folds of Honor Foundation education scholarships for her four children thanks to Patriot Golf Days; William Stockholm, United States Marine Corps, Gunnery Sgt., 2019 PGA HOPE Ambassador Northern California and Seth Waugh, CEO PGA of America at Southern Hills CC during the 2022 PGA Championship.

Interview – Chris Nowak – PGA


What’s the reception been like on all levels?

Our PGA Members are embracing the chance to give back and support Veterans and Military Families. Members at municipal courses, driving ranges, private clubs, and more from across the country are rallying to raise funds for PGA HOPE and Folds of Honor. LT. Colonel Dan Rooney, the Founder and CEO of the Folds of Honor Foundation is a PGA Professional, and this collaboration with the PGA of America allows us to make a more meaningful impact on the lives of military families and Veterans that need our support.

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What do you see as the chief reason for the success of the program, thus far?

All donations that will be made for Patriot Golf Days will be split 50/50 between Folds of Honor & PGA HOPE, and in addition, those dollars will directly benefit a military family or Veteran right in the community where it was raised. 


Are any major touring professionals — PGA or LPGA Tours — actively involved with the effort?

Yes, all major golf bodies have signed on to support our efforts. PGA Tour, LPGA, & USGA are all rallying together for the most heroic weekend in golf, while a contingent of professional golfers on the PGA TOUR Champions are also huge advocates of Patriot Golf Days and PGA HOPE programming.

Interview - Chris Nowak - PGA HOPE
(Lto R) Jim Richerson, President, PGA of America; Sergio Avendano, United States Air Force and 2021 PGA HOPE Ambassador, Southern Texas; Chris Nowak and Jason Epstein, PGA Director of Athletics, Congressional Country Club.

Interview – Chris Nowak – PGA


What are the biggest challenges — short and long term — and how do you see them being handled?

In the short term we want everyday proud Americans to know they can make a contribution and support the cause. It takes a nation to heal our Veterans and to support our most worthy military families: anyone can donate any amount at patriotgolfdays.com. 


For those wanting to be involved — what’s the best way to do that? —

PatriotGolfDays.com

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For more info go to:

www.pgahope.com

Images courtesy of the PGA of America