Ping's work with Lewis also has helped with its efforts to supply clubs and lessons to veterans who are part of the Wounded Warriors Project. A story of one such veteran is turning up in what has become a viral e-mail chain headed, "A note from a golfing friend." It tells of a recent round played at the Lake Buena Vista Course at Disneyworld Resort with a quiet veteran named Ben Woods, who had recently earned his medical discharge after spending the previous 15 months in an army rehabilitation hospital in San Antonio. The email reveals how veterans are fitted for a set of Ping clubs and given lessons.
"[Ben] looked me in the eye and said that being fitted for those clubs was one of the best things that ever happened to him and he was determined to learn to play golf well enough to deserve the gift Ping had given him," the email reads. See the e-mail here (G11411.pdf.)
According to Pete Samuels, director of communications, Ping has custom fit 130 wounded veterans since 2008. "We feel it's the least we can do considering the sacrifices these soldiers are making," he says. "Using golf to help someone like Ben Woods get through the rehab process makes us feel good as a company but more importantly helps improve his quality of life."
Of course, Ping is not alone in its efforts to help wounded veterans through the game of golf. For example, Callaway has donated $5 million in golf equipment to 250 military bases through Phil Mickelson's involvement in the Birdies for the Brave program, says Tim Buckman, senior director of global communications.
TaylorMade also has played a big role in the effort to bring golf to injured veterans in the San Diego area. The company donates equipment and instruction to the San Diego-based program Operation Game On! The program, organized by Tony Perez, the father of PGA Tour pro Pat Perez and the annual starter for the Farmers Insurance Open, works with wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan at the Naval Medical Hospital in San Diego.