Community service and military appreciation are two causes to which the George Washington University and GW Athletics are deeply committed.
Every student-athlete at GW performs at least 10 hours of community service each academic year, and the private university has been ranked among the ‘Best for Vets’ according to Military Times.
It’s with these two tenets in mind that the GW golf program has paired with the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA), whose mission is “to provide rehabilitative golf experiences and family-inclusive golf opportunities for post-9/11 wounded war veterans in an effort to improve the quality of life for these American heroes.”
“Our whole program is very excited about this partnership with the SMGA,” said first-year Head Coach Chuck Scheinost. “After arriving in DC, I knew I wanted the team to give back to our nation’s heroes who have given so much for our country and the freedoms that we enjoy every day.”
GW golf began its partnership with the SMGA the weekend of March 22, 2014 by hosting the inaugural Colonial Cup – a Ryder Cup-style match play event against the SMGAs top players at Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring, Md. The Colonials will also assist veterans in the SMGAs eight-week clinic program this coming weekend at the organization’s flagship location at Olney Golf Park.
“We will be working with them on short game, which is one of the foundations of the game,” said Coach Scheinost. “It will push our guys to learn how to teach adaptive golf swings, which in turn will help them become better communicators in the long run.”
The new relationship between GW and the SMGA extends beyond the university and athletics department’s commitments to community service and the nation’s military. The organization’s co-founder and president, Jamie Winslow, is both a GW alumnus and four-year golf letterwinner for the Colonials from 1983-87.
Winslow, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at GW, paired with childhood friend and former PGA Tour professional Jim Estes to form the SMGA in 2006.
The idea, initially outlined on a napkin at a sports bar, was born from Veterans Appreciation Day events hosted at Olney by Estes, as well as the impact of 9/11 on Winslow, whose office as Senior Director for Government Affairs at the Sumitomo Corporation sits almost directly across the street from the White House. “I’ll never forget the emotions I had on that day when our country came under attack,” said Winslow.
The duo has since grown the SMGA into a non-profit organization that has helped thousands of wounded veterans, spawned several chapter and affiliate programs across the nation and helped Estes earn the PGA of America Patriot Award in 2010.
“While the original drive for co-founding the SMGA was to meld a love of country and golf to support our nation’s combat wounded warriors, what continues the drive today is that I know the program works,” said Winslow. “I’ve seen first-hand, time and again, the positive impact the game of golf has had on the mental and physical rehabilitation programs of post-9/11 wounded and injured veterans.”
Winslow cites his MBA from GW as key to helping start and grow the SMGA, from the initial stages in forming the non-profit, to day-to-day management and charting the organization’s strategic plan for expansion. Now, he’s helping to give back to others at his alma mater.
“The truth is that GW and golf have both been a part of my life for nearly 40 years,” said Winslow, whose father, Dr. Erik Winslow, is professor emeritus and co-founder and co-director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence at GW. “That I can introduce SMGA to the Colonials’ golf team is just really cool. I can’t applaud Coach Scheinost and GW enough for taking an active interest in the SMGA for their community service program.”
The combination is a win-win for both teams according to Coach Scheinost and Winslow.
“This allows the warriors to push their game to another level and be engaged in a challenge,” added Coach Scheinost. “We know that both the warrior golfers from the SMGA and our GW team will benefit from this great partnership.”
“I think the pairing of GW and SMGA will be beneficial – educational for both sides,” said Winslow. “Not only will these student-athletes be introduced to a world where many of them probably had no experience, but SMGA’s own warriors will be given an opportunity to showcase their talents as well. That opportunity only provides even greater momentum to continue with their recovery.”