Chris Paulsen’s Next Steps for Veterans’ Golf (Part 2 of 2)

Paulsen is working with the staff at Haggin Oaks to add a veteran’s league that will start in March.

Paulsen is a graduate of PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), the flagship military program of the Northern California PGA Foundation.

PGA HOPE introduces golf to veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being, according to its website,

“Participants of PGA HOPE programs include military veterans living with physical or cognitive challenges such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and amputees, among other challenges,” according to

“The Department of Veterans Affairs research and clinical experience verify that physical activity is important to maintaining good health, speeding recovery and improving overall quality of life. For many injured veterans, adaptive sports provide their first exposure to physical activity after injury.

“PGA HOPE programming is fully funded by the NCPGA Foundation and offered at NO COST for military veterans.”

Paulsen went through the PGA HOPE program in 2016 at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, which features the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course, Arcade Creek Course, a lighted driving range and learning center with 100 stalls and target greens, Haggin Oaks Academy Holes, MacKenzie Putting Course, Super Shop, Player Performance Studio, and Haggin Oaks Shoe Store.

The PGA HOPE program was directed by Tom Morton, a PGA member, who is with the ownership team at Morton Golf.

Morton is the PGA Director of Player Performance for Morton Golf and the President of the Morton Golf Foundation. Morton played four years of college golf at UC Santa Barbara and was named All-Big West Conference for the Gauchos.

He was PGA General Manager at the Bing Maloney Golf Complex in Sacramento from 2001-2005.

He has been a board member of First Tee – Greater Sacramento since 2004. He was named as Northern California PGA Junior Golf Leader of the Year in 2008 and 2012.

The six-week PGA HOPE program, open to veterans of all abilities, includes instruction in putting, chipping, pitching and full swing, as well as on-course playing.

The Northern California Institute of Golf at Haggin Oaks offers adaptive golf programs, including PGA HOPE, California Eagle Program, and Golf For Health Program. Haggin Oaks also has adaptive vehicles.

“For me, being a veteran, I know the game is trying to bring in veterans that have PTSD, or mental health issues. Golf is a mental game.

“You have got to really, really narrow yourself into what you’re doing to be successful in the game,” said Paulsen.

Last November, PGA HOPE put on a Drive, Chip and Putt competition for veterans of all branches of military service, at Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards in American Canyon, located in Napa County.

PGA HOPE Drive, Chip and Putt event at Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards.
Dean Ruggiero Photography

According to its website,, “The NCPGA Foundation is the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of the Northern California PGA.

The mission of the NCPGA Foundation is three-fold: To serve Veterans – Their health and their families; to provide resources to PGA members serving their communities in Northern California and Northwestern Nevada; and to grow the game of golf.”

The Northern California PGA Foundation said graduates of the PGA HOPE program each receive a PGA HOPE golf shirt and PGA HOPE ID Card.

PGA HOPE Play Days are offered twice a month, according to the Northern California PGA Foundation, at the following facilities at a discounted rate for PGA HOPE graduates:

* Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, Sacramento.

* Baylands Golf Links, Palo Alto.

* Cypress Lakes Golf Course, Vacaville.

* Diablo Creek Golf Course, Concord.

* Metropolitan Golf Links, Oakland.

* Presidio Golf Course, San Francisco.

* Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses, Seaside.

Paulsen is working with the staff at Haggin Oaks to add a veteran’s league that will start in March.

Paulsen envisions it becoming a competitive league one day with different events – both for individual and team – that can be offered.

“This can be pretty big, because veterans like playing with other veterans and they’re a tight community and they like to be competitive,” said Paulsen.

“Even if you say we’re going to play branch against branch, they’re there. We came up with the league, to start getting the veterans to start being competitive, just like a bowling league or just like a softball league.

“I’m competitive. I like to play my game. I learned the game of golf and I like to compete. I want to see other veterans get into that mindset also.”

More information about the new veterans league is available by contacting Haggin Oaks at (916) 481-GOLF.

Paulsen was instrumental in the founding of the NorCal Veterans Golf Club, which is offered through the Northern California Golf Association.

The NCGA has a Veteran Golfer Resource Page on its website,

“Our Veteran Golfer Resource Page is your go-to for Veteran golf clubs, programming, and events in Northern California,” the NCGA said.

The NorCal Veterans Golf Club offers a Veteran’s Membership Card.

Members of the NorCal Veterans Golf Club can play golf with fellow-veteran golfers, as well as compete against other veterans and branches of Service in local and regional events, according to

Clinics, events and programs are also offered.

“The Veterans’ Golf Program was established to support patients from Mather VA Hospital.

“The golf program, which is self-funded, is designed to give our veterans a place to connect, enhance self-esteem, develop relationships, and learn the game of golf.

“Mather Golf supports the program through their weekly donations of the range facility and occasional playing time,” said.

Playing golf all over the Sacramento area Paulsen is a 14 Handicap Index and has been a member at Ancil Hoffman Golf Course in Carmichael for the last two years.

He likes to play at different courses in the area, including Haggin Oaks, River Oaks Golf Club in Nicolaus, Cherry Island Golf Course in Elverta, The Ridge Golf Course in Auburn, WildHawk Golf Club in Sacramento, Bing Maloney Golf Complex in Sacramento, and Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course in Sacramento.

He got a hole-in-one, acing No. 3 at Antelope Greens Golf Course in 2018.

“My newest prosthetic allows me to rotate my knee in a golf swing. I have a rotator on my prosthetic that allows me to get more rotation with my hips, where I can get my club swing around,” said Paulsen.

Paulsen at the Military Bowling Championship – August 2018

He is also bowling. He bowls out of Steve Cook’s Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights and Bowlero in Sacramento.

* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.

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