New non-profit teams up with Bay Point Golf Club to make “golf therapy” more available
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -A local non-profit business is sprouting up with the help of the folks at the Bay Point Golf Club. That non-profit entity is Florida Panhandle Golf Therapy Alliance, and it’s the brainchild of James “Tip” Tipton. He took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday just outside Bay Point’s Bar 72. After that ribbon was cut, James was presented with entry into both the PCB and Bay County Chambers of Commerce. Then accepted a check of 30-thousand dollars from the St. Joe Foundation, which will pay for another stand up golf wheelchair! James himself a paraplegic veteran, who some years ago discovered the amazing therapy of using a stand up golf cart and getting out to play the game. With that in mind, he’s taking it a step further to form this alliance and run weekly clinics for injured vets and others. So they too can get into the game and feel it’s therapeutic effects. Teaming up with Bay Point was key, which allows the Alliance free use of the driving range and the skills of the teaching pros there, among other things. This idea took shape 8 months ago when Tipton met up with Bay Point Golf G.M. Ryan Mulvey.
“And I let him know that we wanted to branch out here in Panama City.” Tipton told me. “As a partnership with the Stand Up and Play Foundation. And start a clinic here for PTSD veterans, children with disabilities and fire and police and EMS. And start my own nonprofit so that we would be able to do these PTSD clinics. And Ryan was all in just from the beginning. As soon as he heard about it, there was no question in his mind that he was all in. So he just said bring it on, what do we need to do? And it just started from there.”
“And what’s awesome about this it’s for PTSD or disabilities, for veterans, first responders or children, using golf as therapy.” says Bay Point Golf G.M. Ryan Mulvey. “All these people have a lot on their minds, they’ve been through stuff we couldn’t even imagine. And to be out here learning the game of golf, clearing their minds for a few hours is what it’s all about. And it’s all being led by tip and it’s absolutely fantastic to be a part of.”
Teaming up with a golf operation like Bay Point, well that’s ideal for Tipton and his mission!
“Well it’s priceless. First of all to have the facility bring us on, and one they donate their time, donate the range, the golf balls, the coffee social in the morning. They donate the coffee. And actually now we’ve had another sponsor come on, Café Del Mundo, and they donate the coffee in the mornings for our social. So for them, a facility as nice as this, the golf course to be the shape it is in, and for them to just donate their time and let us come out and do this clinic, it’s phenomenal.”
“It took us just a second to realize we wanted to be involved in it.” added Mulvey. “And also I want to thank our ownership, Mr. Warren and his wife (Karen), for supporting this as well. And we’ve got a lot of volunteers, Jay Henley our teaching pro is volunteering his time. Earl Boles, who’s been around this area forever, he’s volunteering his time. Gavin our head pro is volunteering his time. So it’s just great to see a lot of people coming out and being a part of this awesome cause.”
And again for those paraplegics, the stand up golf carts are huge. With the St. Joe donation they’ll have two to work with. Tipton doesn’t want to stop there though.
“I am so grateful for St. Joe supporting me, and giving me the donation to buy that cart. And we’ll go from there. We’re starting another campaign on my website asking for another $30,000 to buy another cart. We usually typically have 2 to 3 paraplegics, a few amputees, and then the rest are able bodies, if you will, with PTSD. And that’s in our morning clinic. In the afternoon clinic we have the Rotary Community Corps, I believe it’s called, Special Olympics, and then adults with disabilities, here at our 5 PM clinic. They generally don’t need the mobility device. But in the morning we have a high demand for two or three of those carts.”
The clinics are each Tuesday at the Bay Point driving range. For those wishing to donate or get more information on the Florida Panhandle Golf Therapy Alliance can go to the website flpanhandlegolf.org or go to the organization’s Facebook page @floridagolftherapyalliance
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