Linn Wilson Golf Fore Health: A Marty James Story

Read Linn Wilson’s Story & How The Morton Golf Foundation’s Golf Fore Health Program Has Changed Her Life

No one gave up on Linn Wilson during her first day with Golf Fore Health a year ago.

No one gave up on Wilson when her first shot with the program, which is based at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento and put on by the Morton Golf Foundation, went about 10 feet.

No one gave up on Wilson when her second shot went about 15 feet.

“It was an embarrassment, a huge embarrassment,” Linn Wilson said, looking back on that October day with Golf Fore Health’s event, the Hot Dog Scramble. “I was just near tears. I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t think I’m going to come back. I just can’t do this.’ ”

But Linn Wilson didn’t give up, as there was a ton of help and support and encouragement all around her – with the many volunteers, Coach Ken Hurdle, and her close friend, Laura Farren.

“I walked with the group,” said Linn Wilson. “Ken and the volunteers, the men and the women that come out there and give lessons to each of us, are kind, direct and thoughtful. They are endlessly patient.

“Ken is the most patient man I’ve ever met, the time that he has given me. I can now drive a ball. I hit my first par ever (June 21).”

Thanks to Golf Fore Health, which offers spring and fall programs during the year, Linn Wilson has come a long way in the game and continues to make strides on the golf course. The most recent spring session started on May 1 and ended on June 28th.

As Wilson put it, Golf Fore Health has turned things around for her. It has provided her with an opportunity to get out of the house, to learn more and more about the game, to get on the course and play and challenge herself and connect with others around her.

“I can’t tell you how happy I was to be out there. It’s just an absolutely delightful group of people. I cannot say enough good things about Ken and the program. He has been so encouraging and just an absolute, absolute delight,” said Wilson, who is a resident of Sacramento.

Wilson was invited to play with Golf Fore Health and the program’s Hot Dog Scramble by Farren last year.

“My friend, Laura Farren, is an active golfer. She called and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in partnering up with me? You might be interested in doing this, especially with the health problems that you have with the pacemaker, your knees, and shoulder. You know, this might be great for you.’ Yes, I thank her for that, for introducing me to the game and then to Ken Hurdle,” Wilson said.

Golf Fore Health is one of the programs that the Morton Golf Foundation funds. According to its website,, the Morton Golf Foundation “funds programs offering a healthy outdoor recreational environment that stresses the building of lasting personal relationships while seamlessly instilling life’s core values for the youth, disabled, and under-served communities of Sacramento.”

Golf Fore Health, according to, “is another example of how the Morton Golf Foundation uses golf as a tool for enriching people’s lives.”

Golf Fore Health “provides the participants the opportunity to improve their golfing skills while on their journey of recovery,” according to It features instructional sessions on Mondays and nine-hole golf play on Wednesdays.

The seasonal programs end with the Hot Dog Scramble, during which participants can have family, friends, or caretakers play nine holes of golf with them, Morton Golf Foundation said.

“Golf forces me to get out, to be present, to be in the moment,” said Linn Wilson. “I’m not embarrassed to go out and play with people, because I can drive a ball pretty much straight down the fairway.”

“I’m having trouble with my chip shots. I just have to get out and practice. With my putting, they have shown me direction.”

Morton Golf Foundation added that a summer school program has been added to Golf Fore Health during July and August on alternating Mondays, “to allow the golfers to continue to hone their skills and maintain their friendship,” according to

The summer school program started July 10, with participants using the Haggin Oaks Academy Holes.

Golf Fore Health, Morton Golf Foundation said, “has been growing in leaps and bounds over the past few years and includes participants aged 16 through the ‘young’ 80s. Such growth has been made possible through the dynamic coaches and volunteers that work with the participants.”

Linn Wilson has battled several health issues over the years, including heart failure.

She experienced heart failure in 2006 and a pacemaker, she said, was installed on that day.

Growing up in South Lake Tahoe, Wilson took to downhill skiing and water skiing.

“I had always been really healthy and always active. A lifetime downhill skier, a water skier,” she said. “I had gone in for what I thought was just routine kinds of tests. I was in the hospital and I was talking to one of the doctors and the nurse about downhill skiing. The next thing I knew, there was a crash cart and doctors. My heart had stopped and they had to resuscitate me. One of the doctors said, you have no choice – we have to put in a pacemaker. I had my first pacemaker put in. Seven years later, I had another one put in. My third one will be placed in 2024.”

Linn Wilson continues to lead an active lifestyle – getting out on walks and working in her garden.

“I walk every day. I force myself to get out,” she pointed out

Wilson has also had additional medical issues – having had knee replacement surgery on both knees.

She also suffered a serious injury to her shoulder and broke her collarbone when she crashed on her bike on the American River Trail.

She continues to see a physical therapist and goes to the gym.

“I’m grateful to be alive. Grateful for my family and friends and to this (Golf Fore Health) program,” she said.

Linn Wilson said Golf Fore Health has been a life-changing program.

“It’s been phenomenal for me,” she said “I’m so grateful for the lessons and the companionship. Part of the reason that I’m in Golf Fore Health is that I’ve had heart failure.

“I’m 80 this year. I’ve had all kinds of accidents and things. So, this is just very healing for me. My life right now is golf. I am totally, totally thrilled to be part of Golf Fore Health.”

“When I had that opportunity to golf, it has just given me a new lease on life. And the heart is good.”

June 28 marked the final day of the program’s spring session, with 30 participants taking part in the final golf play date, according to a report, at The fall session starts Sept. 6 and goes on for eight weeks. The report, at, said:

“This is a wonderful group that enjoys friendship as well as a good golf game.”

“Golf Fore Health offers rehabilitation through golf. The program has been growing in leaps and bounds over the past few years and includes participants aged 16 through their early 80s. Such growth has been made possible through the dynamic coaches and volunteers that work with the participants. Golf Fore Health is another example of how the Morton Golf Foundation uses golf as a tool for enriching people’s lives.”

Linn Wilson is so thankful and appreciative of everything that Hurdle does with Golf Fore Health as a coach.

“Ken followed through, called me and made sure that I had registered. He has just been a lifesaver for me. I tell him he saved my life. He just brought me out of a tough time in my life,” said Wilson. “He’s out every Monday and every Wednesday. He watches. And when he sees if you’re making an error, he’ll come up and he’ll stop and say, ‘OK, let’s correct this.’

“Ken has changed my game. Ken Hurdle is a true gem. He has changed my golf game with endless patience and devotes time to working with all of us in Golf Fore Health. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude for this wonderful program.”

“There’s somebody there to help you. It’s a fantastic group. I can’t say enough about Golf Fore Health. I’m so ever grateful. I just I am over the moon with what they have provided.

“It’s just changed everything about my attitude and about my physical ability.”

Wilson went to South Tahoe High School-South Lake Tahoe.

She owned and operated a landscape design business.

Linn Wilson will celebrate her 80th birthday on Oct. 2 in the San Diego area with her sons, Jon Wilson of Anchorage, Alaska, and Joel Wilson of Yuma, Arizona.

She already has plans for the trip.

“We’re going to play golf,” she said.

To obtain more information about Golf Fore Health, contact the Concierge office at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, at (916) 808-2531.

* 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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