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Latest News from the Return To Golf® Program
Northern Ohio Golf Association Receives $60,000 Grant to Help Disabled Golfers

By Pat Galbincea, The Plain Dealer

The Northern Ohio Golf Association's program to help disabled golfers got a $60,000 boost in December from the Harold C. Schott Foundation. 

The grant will mean a significant increase to the association's 'Return to Golf program, according to Bob Wharton, executive director of the association's charities. 

"We've wanted to do a better job for golfers with disabilities," Wharton said. "We want to get them physically stronger, using golf as the carrot. This grant will enable us to do that." 

The money will be used to hire a golf pro and a therapist one day a week, Wharton said. 

He said the grant will also enable the golf association to complete its Wellness Center in the basement of its headquarters in North Olmsted. The center is designed so that golfers who have physical disabilities can exercise. 

The facility is also used during the summer in inclement weather. Golfers conduct putting contests there and can receive lessons for free. 

In good weather, golfers can play the nine-hole association-owned North Olmsted Golf Club. 

The Schott Foundation grant will also enable the golf association to purchase specialized golf equipment, including a golf simulator. 

Wharton secured the grant with the help of Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Jeffrey Ciolek. Wharton and Ciolek were the key figures in establishing the Return to Golf program in 2002. 

Initially, the association had a golf pro and a therapist who volunteered and worked with about 20 golfers with physical disabilities on Tuesdays during the summer. The program has since grown, as the group now works with about 20 golfers during the winter months, and up to 35 golfers during the summer. 

"Whether you have a disability or not, most golfers want to see how well and how far they are hitting the golf ball," Wharton said. "This grant will help us get the equipment we need to hook up golfers so they can see how well they are executing the golf swing."

(The Plain Dealer)

NOGA Charities & Foundation Opens New Fitness Center
The NOGA Wharton Golf Center was missing one piece for its Return To Golf program – a Fitness Center.  Now, thanks in part to a grant from the Harold C. Schott Foundation, our puzzle is complete.  

The NOGA Fitness Center is an 800-square foot facility located in the lower level of the Wharton Golf Center (next to the indoor golf range).  This spacious room is fully equipped with high quality, easy-to-use, equipment geared toward helping individuals perform rehabilitation-based fitness and conditioning.  The Fitness Center features state-of-the-art fitness equipment, including Cardon Rehabilitation Pulley Systems, K-TRAINER Biofeedback System, TRUEStretch Flexibility Platform and NuStep Recumbent Cross Trainer.

During weekly sessions, physical therapists utilize the Fitness Center to help Return to Golf participants enhance flexibility, improve balance and increase overall strength.

Jerry Ludvik Return to Golf Outing Celebrates Another Year of Accessible Golf
A record number of participants gathered for the 7th annual Jerry Ludvik Return to Golf Outing at the North Olmsted Golf Club on Friday, August 24. The event was sponsored by the Jerry Ludvik Memorial Golf Fund. 

More than 70 golfers comprised of Return to Golf participants, their families and program supporters celebrated another year of accessible golf and the success of NOGA Charities & Foundation's Return to Golf program for golfers with disabilities.

Jerry Ludvik was the head golf professional at Springvale Golf Course in North Olmsted until he unexpectedly passed away in December of 2005. His passion for teaching golf to those with special needs and disabilities lead his wife, Debbie, to establish the Jerry Ludvik Memorial Golf Fund to carry on his legacy. Her fund annually conducts the Jerry Pole Golf Classic at Springvale Golf Course.

Thanks to Debbie, the annual Jerry Pole Golf Classic raised $3,000 in 2012. A check was presented to Trevor Hazen, Director of Return to Golf, at the Jerry Ludvik Return to Golf Outing. Since 2006, the Jerry Ludvik Memorial Golf Fund has contributed $18,833 to NOGA Charities & Foundation and Return to Golf.

Every year, the Return to Golf player of the year is announced at the Jerry Ludvik Return to Golf Outing. The Player of the Year award recognizes an individual who demonstrates great determination and commitment to the program. This year's award winner, John Trevis, exemplifies all that is good about Return to Golf and is the first to recognize how the program has changed his life. John is a great friend to all, welcoming new participants and giving encouragement along the way.

The Jerry Ludvik Return to Golf Outing would like to thank Chick-fil-A of Great Northern Boulevard in North Olmsted. Outing participants were treated to their signature Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwiches for lunch, with cookies and ice cream for dessert. Angelina's Pizza also supported the event by donating gift certificates to each golfer for complimentary pizza.
Return To Golf Brings the Course Indoors
For most golfers in northeast Ohio, the end of the golf season is traditionally marked by the arrival of winter. Golf courses are covered with a blanket of snow and the opportunities to swing the club must be put on hold until spring. Fortunately, Return To Golf participants now have the ability to tee it up all winter long thanks to the donation of an OptiShot Infrared Golf Simulator from Dancin' Dogg Golf.

During the winter months, Return To Golf is conducted indoors at the Wharton Golf Center in North Olmsted. This facility is located adjacent to the North Olmsted Golf Club and houses Return To Golf's indoor driving range and fitness center. Last month, NOGA Charities & Foundation added equipment to enhance these facilities and allow program participants the opportunity to experience additional recreational therapy during the week.

"The new Optishot has been great. Program participants are able to utilize the facility additional days during the week and stay active during the long winter months. Whether they are practicing or playing a championship course, participants receive instant feedback on each shot, increasing their enjoyment and focus."  - Trevor Hazen, Return To Golf Director

In addition to regularly scheduled program days, Return To Golf participants are invited to play golf on the OptiShot golf simulator with other participants and volunteers. To learn more about the OptiShot Infrared Golf Simulator visit www.dancindogg.com.
8th Annual 
Jerry Ludvik Return To Golf Outing
Celebrating the highly successful Return To Golf program!
A record number of more than 100 Return To Golf supporters gathered at the North Olmsted Golf Club Saturday for the 8th Annual Jerry Ludvik Return To Golf Outing to celebrate NOGA Charities & Foundation's highly successful program for disabled adults, children and veterans. The group, comprised of Return To Golf participants, family, friends, program volunteers and staff each had their own unique reasons for taking part in the day.  

For many Return To Golf participants, the annual celebration represented another step in their journey toward independence and improving their overall enjoyment of life. Family and friends relished the opportunity to share in the success of a loved-one, while Return To Golf volunteers and staff looked forward to spending quality time with participants outside of the weekly program sessions.

The day began with 96 golfers taking part in an eight-person scramble over the 9-hole executive layout at North Olmsted Golf Club. Challenge stations were added throughout the course to manage on-course congestion, including Corn Hole, a putting contest and the annual Chick-fil-A prize wheel.

The official celebration began at lunch when Debbie Ludvik presented a donation to NOGA Charities & Foundation from the Jerry Ludvik Memorial Golf Fund donors of $3,700. Jerry Ludvik was the head golf professional at Springvale Golf Course until his passing in 2005. The Jerry Ludvik Memorial Golf Fund was established by his wife, Debbie Ludvik, to carry on his legacy and passion for teaching individuals with physical disabilities. Each year at the Jerry Ludvik Return To Golf Outing, Debbie presents the Fund's annual donation to the Return To Golf program. To date, Jerry's fund has raised more than $20,000 for the Return To Golf program.

Return To Golf program participant, Mr. Twister, had the crowd falling out of their chairs with laughter as he had a little fun with program volunteers and staff using his signature balloon hats.

The final award of the day went to the annual Return To Golf Player of the Year. The award identifies one individual who has made the most of his Return To Golf experience while making a lasting impact back to the program. This year, the Player of the Year honor was awarded to Bob Norton. "I'm proud to have this, I really am. I never thought when I first started coming here that you would be able to go out there, play golf and have it mean something. It's changed my life."

Sand Ridge Golf Experience for Veterans 

On a perfect autumn day at one of Ohio's most picturesque golf facilities, more than a dozen wounded soldiers gathered for the inaugural Sand Ridge Golf Experience for Veterans; a collaboration of Fairmount Minerals, the Mayfield Sand Ridge Club and NOGA Charities & Foundation's Return To Golf program. The goal was to support our brave men and women who heroically served our country and returned home with life altering injuries.

NOGA Charities & Foundation's Return To Golf program had the pleasure of assisting with the golf experience, providing golf instruction and recreational therapy programming for the veteran participants, including those with visual impairment, post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Return To Golf's Program Director, Trevor Hazen expressed his enthusiasm for taking part in the event. "Return To Golf is always looking for opportunities to support our local veterans and this event fit our program's mission perfectly, helping physically disabled individuals improve their overall enjoyment of life using the game of golf."  

Vietnam veteran and Return To Golf participant, Bob Norton also volunteered at Sand Ridge. "I saw this event as an opportunity to help my fellow veterans and apply what I've learned from the Return To Golf program. I felt an immediate bond with the participants and I think they appreciated working with someone on the same level."

Following the morning's golf instruction, participants were treated to golf team play on the beautiful Sand Ridge course.

Thank you to Bill Conway for envisioning the inaugural Sand Ridge Golf Experience for Veterans and the staff from Fairmount Minerals and the Mayfield Sand Ridge Club for helping make it a success! NOGA Charities & Foundation and Return To Golf look forward to helping grow this annual event!
Return To Golf® Newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 2 - Summer 2014
Written by Pat Galbincea
Spring 2014
Autumn 2013
Columbia Hills Member Returns to Course with Renewed Hope

Anyone wondering what the Northern Ohio Golf Association (NOGA) Charities & Foundation's Return To Golf® program can do for individuals with physical disabilities should look no further than what the program has meant to Strongsville resident and NOGA member, Eddie Bond.

Life was good to Bond for the first 48 years of his life. He owned a successful business, Adams Automatic Inc., a screw machine shop in Olmsted Falls. He was -- and still is -- happily married to his wife Adria, and was an 8 handicap as a frequent golfer at Columbia Hills Country Club, where he has been a member for the past 33 years.  During this time, Bond was a member of the board and served as chairman on several committees.

Bond also was a very active member in the Northern Ohio Golf Association. But life unexpectedly changed for him at age 49.   

Web.com Tour Players Conduct Instructional Clinic

Nearly 100 people recently enjoyed a highly entertaining clinic conducted for the Return To Golf® program participants. Web.com Tour professionals Shane Bertsch and Kyle Stough conducted the clinic on Wednesday, May 28, in the first fairway at the North Olmsted Golf Club on the campus of the Wharton Golf Center. 

New Single-Rider Golf Cars Provide Mobility and Access

The Return To Golf® program has added two new SoloRider golf carts to their fleet at the North Olmsted Golf Club; the 9-hole executive golf course owned and operated by the Northern Ohio Golf Association (NOGA) Charities & Foundation.  
9th Annual Jerry Ludvik Return To Golf Outing
The 9th Annual Jerry Ludvik Return To Golf® Outing was conducted on Saturday, August 16 to celebrate the life-changing impact of NOGA Charities & Foundation's Return To Golf® program in Northeast Ohio. The record-breaking event, sponsored by Debbie Ludvik and the Jerry Ludvik Memorial Golf Fund, was the largest event ever held at the North Olmsted Golf Club with more than 150 attendees consisting of program participants, their family and friends. To date, the Jerry Ludvik Memorial Golf Fund has donated more than $24,000 to help grow the Return To Golf® program.

The highlight of the day was the announcement of the 2014 Return To Golf® program's Player of the Year. Richard Rossi of Seven Hills became the eight recipient of the prestigious award.

Special thanks to Chick-fil-A of North Olmsted (Great Northern Blvd.) and Ken Ball for their continued support of the event!

Return To Golf Program in North Olmsted allows
physically challenged to reclaim their game
By: Beth Mlady, Special to the Sun News
  on August 28, 2014 at 10:19 PM

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio – The Return To Golf motto is “Learning to play through,” and more than 80 physically challenged golf lovers did just that as they gathered Aug. 26 for a day on the links at North Olmsted Golf Club.

Northern Ohio Golf Association Charities and Foundation began the grant- and donor-funded program 12 years ago. It is designed to enable people with disabilities to return to the sport they love. Besides enjoying a round of golf on Tuesdays, participants in the free program also receive an individualized fitness/physical therapy/rehabilitation clinic session from Cleveland Clinic physical therapists at the on-site indoor facility.

The program operates 45 weeks a year through all four seasons. An OptiShot simulator allows golfers to maintain their skills, especially during the winter.

“We transform lives using golf,” said Trevor Hazen, RTG director and PGA Professional. “The goal of the program is to use golf as recreational therapy to improve people’s lives on the course, but more importantly, off the course. It could be improving physical things, like increasing strength or flexibility, but it’s also the psycho-social aspect as well. It gets our participants out of the house, and they all make friends here.”

Watching the men and women hit their balls off the tee, as well as chip and putt, was proof it’s possible to manage one’s physical limitations in order to return to the game. Amputees, stroke survivors and even those with traumatic brain injuries were able to fully access the course, sometimes assisted by orange-shirted RTG volunteers. In addition, SoloRider carts were available for use by people with severely restricted lower body strength and motion. Read More
Return To Golf® Charity Scramble
On a perfect September morning in Northeast Ohio, 52 golfers (13 teams) came together at Chagrin Valley Country Club to support NOGA Charities & Foundation's life-changing Return To Golf® program for the Inaugural Return To Golf Charity Scramble.

The event, sponsored by Trailex LED Event Solutions, included many of the Northern Ohio Golf Association's top players including 3-time Player of the Year Brian Smith and 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Doug Hauenstein.

Thanks to birdies on nine of their last ten holes, the team from Oberlin Golf Club of Denny Flood, Bryan Warnica, Norton Brick and DJ Grincewicz secured a one stroke victory with a score of 58 (-13) and the top prize of $2,000 in gift certificates. Two teams tied for second, with the top seven teams separated by only three strokes.
Return To Golf® Newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 2 - Summer 2014
Written by Pat Galbincea
Participant Enjoys Richer Life Thanks to Innovative Programming

Bay Village resident Herb Werner recently played his first round of golf in seven years thanks to special day for Return To Golf® program participants at the North Olmsted Golf Club last August.

Werner, who is 64 -- he'll turn 65 in December -- never expected to play golf again after suffering a spinal cord injury when he fell off his garage roof while cleaning leaves from a gutter in 2007. Read more...

Hall of Famers Come Together in Support of Life-Changing Program

Northern Ohio Golf Association (NOGA) Hall of Fame member Bob Fairchild has always liked a good challenge, and he recently got another when NOGA Charities & Foundation Director Frank Rihtar asked him to head a $20,000 Matching Gift Campaign this December to help expand the life-changing Return To Golf® program. Read more...

End of the Year Event Recap

More than 150 friends of the Return To Golf® program, including participants, their family and friends, gathered for a day of golf at the North Olmsted Golf Club on Saturday, August 16 for the 9th Annual Jerry Ludvik Return To Golf Outing. The record-setting event celebrated the life-changing impact of the Return To Golf® program in Northeast Ohio. Read more...

Spring 2014
Autumn 2013
Summer 2014