Winners in 15 Flights Include Veterans, Combat Wounded and Family

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (Oct. 13, 2017) – On Wednesday, the Veteran Golfers Association (VGA) concluded the third annual VGA Championship, presented by Schneider Electric and hosted by Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Oct. 8-11 at Fallen Oak Golf Club in Biloxi, Miss., crowning 15 new VGA flight champions for 2017.

Their journey started in March alongside 2,500 other veterans and families with the opening events of the 2017 VGA Tour. The Tour consisted of 250 golf tournaments for veterans and family members all across the country. From military courses to private clubs, these golfers competed to earn tour points and advance to four regional VGA playoff qualifiers on their way to the national championship.

In total, 85 veterans ultimately advanced to the final rounds at Fallen Oak – 20 from each regional qualifier, including prior overall men’s & women’s VGA Champions, who receive automatic five-year exemptions to the VGA Championship. Fifteen flight winners emerged victorious from three divisions – Veteran, Combat Wounded, and Family. The divisions are further separated into four handicapped flights, and an open handicap Women’s flight.

The 2017 VGA Champions 

  • Men’s Champion: SPC Ethan Heim, U.S. Army, Golf Academy of America Graduate 
  • Women’s Champion: MAJ Linda Jeffery, U.S. Air Force 
  • Wounded Veteran Men’s Champion: CPT Adam Napier, U.S. Army 
  • Wounded Veteran Women’s Champion: MAJ Judy Sallerson, U.S. Army 
  • B Flight Champion:  SSgt Kevin Hyatt, U.S. Air Force 
  • Wounded B Flight Champion: SPC Andrew Meuse, U.S. Army 
  • C Flight Champion: TSgt Jeffrey Ellis, U.S. Air Force 
  • Wounded C Flight Champion: SSgt James Csogi, U.S. Marine Corps 
  • D Flight Champion: PO2 Richard Duskey, U.S. Navy 
  • Wounded D Flight Champion: SSG Nathan Meuse, U.S. Army 
  • Family Men’s Champion: Joel Lynn
  • VGA Family Women’s Champion: Pattina Martinez
  • Family B Flight Champion: Craig Hart
  • Family C Flight Champion: Isaiah Brevick
  • Family D Flight Champion: Jeffery Bacon

“I’m just glad I was able to control my nerves to pull through, but it feels great,” said Men’s Champion, SPC Ethan Heim, U.S. Army. “The greens were pretty tricky to read, but by the second day, I kind of had a feel for it and was putting a lot better.”

“I expected to play well and hoped to win, so I’m very excited,” said Women’s Champion, MAJ Linda Jeffery, USAF.  “This has given me the opportunity to meet more veterans and have a good time playing golf with other people who have served our country.”

Next year, the 2018 VGA Championship will be hosted by the Olympic Club, Nov. 4-7 in San Francisco.  Additionally, the VGA will add a Senior Division for VGA members 60 and above, with a VGA Senior Championship tournament to be hosted next summer in Pinehurst, N.C. The VGA will also add a VGA Juniors division next year to get more military children involved in the game of golf. 

The VGA Tour and Championships remain more about the camaraderie than about competition. The idea for the VGA began when Capt. Joshua Peyton, VGA President and CEO, and two other veterans were recovering at Walter Reed in Washington, DC. Using golf as a means of escape, they eventually became close friends and recognized the therapeutic benefits that golf provided. Founded in 2014, the VGA is a national non-profit organization open to all U.S. veterans – wounded, non-wounded, disabled, active duty and retired – as well as to their families, including parents, siblings and dependents who are at least 18 years old.  

“We realized other veterans might be out there in similar situations like we were,” Peyton said. “In 2015, we launched a pilot campaign for the VGA. We had 400 members join. We now have more than 2,500 members. We’re growing quickly because veterans and those who support them are seeing the value and benefit of what we provide as an organization to veterans and their families.”

The VGA’s mission is to enrich the lives of veterans and their family members through the camaraderie and sportsmanship of golf. The VGA also focuses on Post Traumatic Growth initiatives to help veterans and families cope with combat-related injuries. Using golf as an alternative activity, these veterans can choose a more productive way to deal with the challenges that impact their everyday lives.

Veterans, combat wounded veterans and family members who enjoy the game of golf are encouraged to learn more at www.vgagolf.org. #ItsMoreThanJustAGame

 About the Veteran Golfers Association

The VGA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting the game of golf to veterans and their family members. The VGA develops programs that allow its members to compete, socialize and remain physically active through the game of golf. For more information visit us at www.vgagolf.org.

Images and videos are available upon request, and the VGA welcomes interviews with the Veterans.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jack Glasure jglasure@fwv-us.com 813-415-4454
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