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Veterans take to the links at Suffolk G.C.

Suffolk Golf Course hosted the Second annual Wounded Veterans and Amputees First Swing and Learn to Golf Clinic Wednesday.

Much of the day was about instruction, exercise and fun on the course, but there’s a bigger meaning with a small golf ball.

Lou Namm, a veteran who lost both legs in Vietnam in 1969, took up golf in 1989. In three years, he was an instructor for the National Amputees Golf Association. Since then, he’s also become a certified instructor for the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation. Namm was the head instructor at Suffolk Golf Course for 13 students.

“Someone with disabilities, they probably are not out doing a lot of things. If they can hit a golf ball, they can learn and understand they can do a lot more than hit a ball,” Namm said. “So hitting a golf ball transcends the game of golf. We can get veterans to understand and believe they can do more of what they want to do every day.”

Disabled American Veterans Chapter 5 in Suffolk organizes the event, with Isaac Baker in the lead. Baker learned about such clinics three years ago at a DAV meeting in Pennsylvania. His work to bring such an event to Suffolk paid off last summer and he’s found an excellent partner at Suffolk Golf Course.

“When I called Eddie Luke (Suffolk Golf Course’s PGA professional) and talked to him, he said, ‘Oh man, that would be great. We’d love to have you,’” Baker said.

Baker is a Suffolk native. He’s a veteran of the Marines and the Army and served in Cuba and Vietnam.

The clinic is sponsored by the Eastern Amputees Golf Association, the National Amputees Golf Association and the PGA.

“Golf can be used as a rehabilitation tool. People with disabilities need a form of exercise, but they need motivation to get out and do things. This is a great way to do this. Anyone can come out here, hit the ball and just be out here. It’s a great form of exercise,” Namm said.

“A larger percentage of people (in the clinics) have never played. Only a small percentage have played golf before,” Namm said.

Following lessons in the morning, most of the group went out on the course to play five holes. A couple of the groups kept playing beyond the fifth hole however, including some brand new to the game.

Getting more than a few of the golfers to head out on the course was a challenge last year, Baker said. Wednesday, Baker left the course for a few minutes to go pick something up and, “when I got back, almost all of them had gone out there to play five holes.”