Olney Golf Park director awarded PGA Patriot Award
Golfers' association honored Estes for serving men and women of armed services
Jim Estes of Germantown, the director of instruction at Olney Golf Park and founder of a program that has helped more than 500 members of the armed services, is the recipient of the Professional Golfers' Association 2010 Patriot Award.
Originated in 2008, the award is presented to PGA professionals who personify patriotism through golf and demonstrate commitment and dedication to the men and women who have served in the military.
Estes, 46, received the award at the 94th PGA Annual Meeting in Boston on Nov. 6.
In 2007, Estes founded the Salute Military Golf Association, which has teamed with Walter Reed Medical Center and Middle Atlantic PGA professionals in developing golf instruction programs and events to serve veterans and their families.
"The pioneering spirit of Jim Estes comes through in his commitment to help hundreds of our nation's heroes to find enjoyment and hope through golf," PGA of America President Jim Remy said.
Estes, who pursued a professional tour career from 1988 through 2001, said he found a new calling through the Salute Military Golf Association.
"Fifteen years ago, I was a selfish tour player who was just trying to make money," Estes said. "I did not care who I ran over to get there. Now, I believe that we all have a calling. Sometimes, I still have the desire to play to realize my dream if it happens, fine. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I feel much more satisfied now as a person."
Estes said the Salute Military Golf Association evolved from his personal observations of the war in Iraq.
"In 2005, the impact of the war hit me," he said. "During visits to Walter Reed, I discovered how the tragedies of war affect our service men and women."
Estes has spent much of the past decade gathering research, working with physical therapists, and attending conferences and mental training seminars to better understand a physically challenged golfer.
"I think that everybody can hit the ball and play," Estes said.
"Someone who has never touched a golf club before has no idea that they may possess some golf ability," he added. "Once we begin to work together, wonderful things begin to happen."
His classroom is Olney Golf Park, which opened in 1999. The facility, at 3414 Emory Church Road, offers 100 tee stations, a 12,000-square-foot putting green, indoor heated bays for winter practice, video analysis and an 80-yard, par-3 training hole.