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Chicopee Woods Golf Course to give free lessons benefiting veterans and their families
Lessons will be held in half-hour increments Saturday in exchange for donations to Folds of Honor
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John Blair, director of instruction at Chicopee Woods Golf Course, left, instructs Pat Clark, 66, right, during her first private lesson in Gainesville, on Tuesday. Blair will be holding golf lessons this Saturday where donations will benefit the Folds of Honor campaign. - photo by David Barnes

When John Blair took over as the director of instruction at Chicopee Woods Golf Course about two months ago, one of the first items on his agenda was getting acquainted with the local community.

Not only will Blair accomplish that Saturday, he and the Chicopee Woods staff will be giving their time to benefit military veterans and their families.

Blair and head golf professional Al Morrison will be giving free lessons Saturday at Chicopee Woods to help raise money for Folds of Honor, a foundation that provides scholarships to families of deceased or disabled veterans.

“I wanted to find a way to give back and contribute to what I consider the true heroes out there,” Blair said. “The foundation has a good reputation and is doing good. … I wanted to give back and donate a bit of my time, and I hope we could have a positive influence.”

Free lessons will be available in half-hour increments from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In exchange, Blair and Morrison simply ask participants to make a donation on Folds of Honor’s website.

“There’s no set amount,” said Blair, the director of instruction at Chicopee Woods. “It could be $5, it could be $500. Whatever they choose to do, as long as it’s making other people aware and getting other people to give.”

Chicopee Woods will accept walk-ins Saturday, though those interested can pre-register for lessons by emailing Blair at john.blair@chicopeegolf.org.

Morrison, who took over his position in March, said the event is basically a small-scale extension of Patriot Golf Day — a national fundraiser in which portions of green fees at participating golf clubs are donated to Folds of Honor.

He spent 10 years at Royal Lakes Golf Club in Flowery Branch before working at courses in Atlanta, supporting Patriot Golf Day in some fashion at each stop.

“I’ve done things with that event before, but (Saturday’s event) is something of ours,” Morrison said. “ … We like to do things to generate money through the golf business. It’s kind of a way to give back.”

Though Morrison said he has rarely worked directly with veterans or their families during these fundraising events, he still enjoys the feeling of contributing to the cause in some way.

“A lot of this is done on the scene, and then the money is sent in,” he said. “With Folds of Honor being a national organization, we don’t get our hands right there touching the people that the foundation goes to. It’s much like anyone else making a donation to any kind of foundation or charity: it may not be direct, but your small part goes in with everyone else’s.”

Blair hasn’t experienced that, having spent the majority of his career working for private clubs and as a teaching professional at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.

He spent 14 years in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, before coming to northeast Georgia, where he’s eager to connect with the community and give his time for a good cause.

“This event kind of sets a good precedent of what we’re trying to do here in terms of getting new programs going and getting people excited about things,” Blair said. “We’re trying to get the local people involved, not only in giving back to the veterans and their families, but also getting them involved locally here at the club. The two fit well together.”

Blair hopes Saturday’s event will generate some interest for next Patriot Golf Day, which he said Chicopee Woods intends to participate in.

Both Blair and Morrison haven’t set any expectations for the fundraiser’s turnout, but their goal is to fill every half-hour instruction period. Should there be inclement weather, the lessons will continue as planned inside the club’s indoor facility.

“The weather won’t stop us,” Blair said.

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