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VGA combines golf, fellowship for veterans

South Bend Tribune - 5/12/2017

May 12--PLYMOUTH -- Involvement has gone from a curiosity to immersion in less than seven months.

But Glenn Hauptman always figured, if you're going to do it, make sure you do it right.

The 36-year-old veteran of 10 years in the Air Force, who now lives in Plymouth, likes to golf. Make that, he loves to golf, even though no course record will be threatened when he tees it up.

Last October, he stumbled across the Veterans Golf Association on the internet.

The VGA provides competitive golf for anyone who has served in the military, or immediate family members of someone who has served.

Hauptman is proud of his military service, which included a stint in Portugal as well as several bases in the U.S. (in fact, he was born on a military base in San Diego). And, as mentioned earlier, he loves golf.

Combining the two seemed a natural.

After some calls, Hauptman made contact with the newly-minted Indiana State Director of the VGA. Four late spring/early summer qualifying tournaments had been established in this new frontier of the VGA. They would feed into a sub-regional, and then the super-regional before ending in the national finals in Biloxi, Miss.

Before the details were worked out, the state director fell ill. Hauptman, who had just learned about the organization, was asked to take over.

"I believe in the VGA," Hauptman said. "Golf is a lot like life. If you keep a positive attitude, you can get rid of a lot of demons.

"The VGA gives veterans an opportunity to get together -- some have fun; some can heal."

One of the four qualifiers will be played at Blackthorn Golf Course in South BendJune 24. Each tournament consists of four flights (as determined by handicap) for non-wounded vets; a flight for wounded vets; a flight for kids, who are immediate family members of vets; and a women's flight.

The top players from those divisions advance with qualifiers from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and North Dakota to the sub-regional July 8 at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth.

The top players from there go to the super-regional at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor for a 36-hole test Aug. 26-27.

"This first year is pretty difficult getting the word out," said Hauptman. "What we're looking for now is participation. If we can get people involved, it's just going to take off.

"Military people, by nature, thrive on competition. This gives them an outlet. Plus, getting to know other vets is a great opportunity. We've all got stories to tell."

And where better to share them than on a golf course?

___

(c)2017 the South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.)

Visit the South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.) at www.southbendtribune.com

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