Veterans Golf Park Founder James Rounsavell Shares his Meeting with Famous TV Analyst and Professional Golfer Ken Venturi and How it Influenced him
and his Drive to Help Disabled Vets.
In 1984 Ken Venturi wrote an article for Golf Magazine titled "7 Shots With 1 Swing". This article was timely for me because I had been struggling and stuck on a 15 handicap for years. I had taken lessons. I had practiced until my hands were bleeding. No breakthrough. When this article caught my attention in 1988, something clicked.
I began using his technique and my game started to improve. In 1984, here in the Sacramento Valley there were lots of golfers and not enough golf courses. The putting greens were full of players waiting for there tee times (if they were lucky enough to have one). At Haggin Oaks GC in Sacramento where I usually played, they frowned upon practice chipping to the putting green, and their small chipping green was not adequate enough to fully develop Ken's technique.
One night, in the dead of night, I awoke from sleep wide-awake! I had an idea of how I could develop a device for practicing at home....and do it indoors using a regulation golf ball. My wife, Jeanne, helped me develop the device. You can see the first version in this video:
After refining the device, I called Ken Venturi and told him how much I enjoyed his article and asked him if I could show him my practice device next time he came up from Florida to see his son Matt. He said he was coming up on the 13th of November 1989 and asked me to meet him at the California Golf and Country Club in Daly City, CA.
That meeting developed a relationship that still exists today. Ken is on my Advisory Board for Veterans Golf Park for Disabled Vets, a 501(c)3 California Non-Profit Corporation. In 1990 we were Ken's guests at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He presented Jeanne and I with CBS Badges and all of the hospitality tents were open to us. We had always looked at this type of event from outside the ropes...and it was fun to be on the inside for once!
David Duvall, the great golfer of the 1990s who became #1 in the world at one time, went into a funk not long after Tiger Woods came along. I thought David felt he had to get more distance to match Tiger's mammoth drives. Whatever he did, he lost his swing and almost dropped out of sight. I felt that my chipping device might help him re-find his accuracy groove. Try as I did, I couldn't find a way to meet David personally. In the process, however, I did meet Puggy Blackman, the head of the Golf Department at the University of South Carolina. He had been David's coach when he attended college and was an All-American at Georgia Tech.
Puggy introduced me to the great Sports Psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella. Bob advises such golfing greats as Phil Mickelson, Rory McElroy, Ernie Els, and a host of other well known and successful Golf Professionals. Dr. Rotella agreed to serve on my Advisory Board because he felt that my theory of using golf to change the hard-wiring of the human brain for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) would give some real relief to some of the 320,000 veterans suffering from these disorders. He encouraged me to give it a try.
Dr. Wayne Gordon, Neuro-psychologist, educator and traumatic brain specialist for over 40 years, is from Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. He has testified before the Committee for Veterans Affairs. He believes and states that you can't cure PTSD or TBI with a pill. Dr. Gordon has also agreed to serve on our Advisory Board.
Veterans Golf Park for Disabled Vets is a test program and, if proven effective, will lead to expansion of our free treatment program across the United States. Dr. Gordon told me that there are 320,000 veterans with TBI in the U.S. Estimated cost for a 3 - 6 month standard treatment program would cost the Veterans Administration somewhere between $40,000 to $50,000 per person. Figuring the total cost for such a program produces a price tag of over $12 Billion dollars. With the present economic situation in our government, it doesn't appear that approval for this costly program will come in the near future. This is a big reason that we want to try with our program.
James Newton Rounsavell is the Founder of Veterans Golf Park for Disabled Vets. Jim was a life long golfer and began to realize that golf could help disabled vets with PTSD and TBI, two very degrading but all too common syndromes that affect our Vets.
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