ON COURSE FOUNDATION

THEIR MISSION

The On Course Foundation was founded by John Simpson in 2010. John was diagnosed with polio as a child, and has dealt with mobility issues his entire life. Despite the fact that John only has full use of one leg, he nevertheless became an avid golfer. He parlayed his love of golf into a successful career in sports management, and has managed some of the top golfers in the world including Gregg Norman, Vijay Singh and Sir Nick Faldo.

When John visited a rehabilitation center at Headley Court in 2009 in his native England, he originally planned to speak about how he overcame the challenges of polio through the game of golf. During this visit, he was struck by the number of veterans who were learning to use prosthetic limbs. It quickly became apparent to John that golf – both the game and the broader industry – offered a great opportunity for these injured veterans to regain confidence and find employment, just as it did for him. Shortly thereafter, he organized pilot event among some of these veterans and started the On Course Foundation the following year.

In 2012, he inaugurated the Simpson Cup, which is a Ryder Cup-style tournament of two teams, one from the US and one from the UK, each consisting of 13 injured veterans. The following year, the On Course Foundation USA was created to work with injured or sick veterans in the United States. Both foundations specialize in working with physically-injured veterans as well as veterans with conditions such as PTSD.

Q: How do sick or injured veterans benefit from exposure to golf?

John Dodds (JD): The impact on their lives has truly been profound. Golf gets them out the house, and allows them to mix with like-minded individuals. Not only that, playing golf helps build confidence and self-esteem, especially for those veterans adapting to prosthetic limbs. Many of them also gain an interest in working in the golf industry. In that case, the On Course Foundation leverages our relationships throughout the industry to find them jobs.

We have placed numerous injured or sick veterans in jobs at golf clubs as well as at industry suppliers including Callaway and Taylormade. I regularly hear that the veterans we’ve referred for jobs are phenomenal employees. That makes sense, given the responsibilities and sacrifices these veterans undertook as members of the armed forces. They have a tremendous work ethic, and absolutely are great assets for any company. Funnily enough, the only complaint we ever get is: “they work too hard!”

“OFTEN, WHEN DEALING WITH TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THEY ARE NOT INVESTED IN YOUR SUCCESS. BUT WHEN DEALING WITH CLUBESSENTIAL WE FEEL AS THOUGH YOU UNDERSTAND OUR GOALS. WITH CLUBESSENTIAL, IT FEELS LIKE WE ARE DEALING WITH FAMILY.”

How many states does the On Course Foundation USA operate in?

JD: We currently operate in 11 states, with huge ambitions to expand to even more. For 2019, we hope to partner with clubs in Texas. When you consider the difficulties many veterans have when adapting to life when they return home, we feel there is a pressing need to offer our services to them.

Even though our presence in the United States is growing, I am happy to say that we can see where we are making real progress. On our website, we recently profiled the story of Alex Happer. Alex’s father was a first responder on September 11th. Alex, who began playing golf at age four, was inspired by his father’s experience and turned down several golf scholarships in favor of joining the military after finishing high school. He served multiple tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with PTSD in 2016. Alex already possessed a love of golf, and so he joined up with the On Course Foundation, and we found him in a job in the golf industry. Earlier this year, he joined the Golf Staff at Trump National Doral Golf Club. While Alex’s story is inspiring, there are so many more veterans who we want to help get back on course with their lives.

Q: Are there any fundraising initiatives you are excited about in addition to the program expansion?

JDWe recently held a series of online charity auctions and will be holding more in future. People can bid on items and the proceeds go to the On Course Foundation USA. For instance, we recently auctioned off a foursome at Maidstone Country Club. The money from these auctions provides us the funds to hold three day events for around fifteen injured vets who want to get started with our foundation.

We have been fortunate to receive support from individuals in the golf industry, too. David Leadbetter recently auctioned instruction opportunities.

In addition to these auctions, we also are trying to put some events together for next May, which is National Military Appreciation Month in the United States. We’ve already had a great number of clubs get behind this program, along with some major club operators such as Toll Brothers and Billy Casper. And, of course, we are hoping to expand our network of supportive clubs over the next few months.

Q: The On Course Foundation has a very noble goal. How has your partnership with Clubessential helped you advance your mission?

JD: As a charity, we do not have a lot of funding to go around. So the free services and support you offer us are a big help. Along with our limited funds we also have a small staff. The ease of updating our Clubessential website offers us big time savings.

Before we used Clubessential, we struggled to find a good website partner. It’s important that both our branding and message be communicated clearly. Clubessential understands that completely. Your team nailed our branding, as was apparent the first time we met to discuss website design ideas. From there, the service and support we receive have been a great help to us as we communicate to an expanding audience. It’s easy for us to update content on our website so as to announce dates of upcoming events, or when we have new fundraising initiatives. Often, when dealing with technology companies you feel as though they are not invested in your success. But when dealing with Clubessential we feel as though you understand our goals. With Clubessential, it feels like we are dealing with family.

Clubessential is proud to partner with the On Course Foundation by hosting the websites for the On Course Foundation UKOn Course Foundation USA, as well as the website for the The Simpson Cup.

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