John Kennedy Jr., Director of Golf at Westchester Country Club, was honored by the PGA of America this week with the 2012 Patriot Award, which recognizes a PGA Professional who personifies patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrates unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America. Kennedy established a foundation for supporting men and women of the military along with an affiliation with the VA to help instruct disabled veterans. He's the fourth recipient of the award, which was first presented in 2008.
Kennedy established Golfers in Support of the Troops Foundation in 2008, which has raised more than $90,000 over a four-year period to distribute more than 20,000 articles of clothing to U.S. troops and their families. Clothing was sent to Baghdad, Iraq, Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Fort Drum, N.Y. Kennedy contributed 50 percent of the clothing that he purchased for his own golf shop.
In addition to Westchester Country Club serving as a strong supporter of Patriot Golf Day since the initiative began in 2007, it also has supported Kennedy’s efforts to build an alliance between the New York VA Hospital Prosthetics Device Department and 2010 Patriot Award recipient Jim Estes of Olney, Md., founder of the Salute Military Golf Association. Together with 2011 Patriot Award recipient John Hines, the group is working to expand training of PGA Professionals to give golf instruction to disabled veterans.
“I think that certainly anyone growing up in America should have great appreciation for those who serve our country in uniform,” said Kennedy. “I have great respect for those that served and have served and the sacrifices they have made. It is a great feeling that by our efforts such as Golfers in Support of the Troops that we may help our veterans and particularly their families. Additionally, we have built a relationship with the New York VA Hospital to help spread training of PGA Professionals to encourage more disabled veterans to have the opportunity to learn and play golf. It gives those who have been in hospitals, sometimes for months, something positive for which to look forward. If I can succeed in this project, then more around the country can follow.”
Kennedy has been a PGA member since 1976. In 2010, he became the third member of the Metropolitan PGA Section to be named a recipient of the Horton Smith Award, which recognizes an individual PGA member for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education. Kennedy also was the 1997 Metropolitan PGA Golf Professional of the Year; and recipient of the 2005 Section Bill Strausbaugh Award; the 1985, ’88 and 2009 Section Horton Smith Award; and the 1983, ’91 Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities.
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf