Situated on the West Los Angeles VA campus is a multi-functional golf course that seeks to uphold its foundation of serving the local veteran population.
Currently managed by the Bandini Foundation, the par-3, nine-hole Heroes Golf Course is committed to providing wellness programs and veteran employment, according to executive director Bruce Rosen.
“The lease is centered around serving veterans,” executive director Bruce Rosen said. “The Bandini Foundation was created in 2008 for the sole purpose of managing Heroes Golf Course. The VA was looking for a non-profit organization to manage the course.”
Although the Bandini Foundation itself is relatively new, the Bandini family history can be traced back to the very beginnings of the VA campus. Arcadia Bandini, a great-aunt of founder Ricardo Bandini, was partially responsible for designating the grounds as a home for soldiers back in the 1880s.
“The Bandini family has stayed involved through all these years and continues to work to make that donation of land as valuable to our veterans as possible,” Rosen said.
As Rosen put it, “the property has changed over the years” from the establishment of the golf course in 1946. Originally intended to serve the veterans returning home from World War II, the golf course now operates for a variety of a reasons.
According to Rosen, the golf course is “used for a series of wellness and therapy programs” through the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
“We see everyone from the impaired mobility patients to the cardiac patients to the PTSD patients,” Rosen explained. “Doctors found that golf was a tremendous way to improve general fitness and health. It helps them stand up for longer periods and golf a little. Bending, squatting, and walking on uneven terrain are all part of the game. Swinging the golf club itself also involves weight shifts.
“Also, by letting the patients golf together, they grow better at socializing and open up more about certain issues,” Rosen continued.
Rosen mentioned that the Heroes Golf Course possesses a more relaxed setting than the typical golf range. With less emphasis on the competitive aspects, playing on the course “allows the veterans to bond and cooperate with each other.”
As for employment opportunities, a vital component of the Bandini Foundation’s mission is to help veterans obtain jobs.
“The golf course creates job opportunities for veterans,” Rosen explained. “We hire veterans to do the golf course maintenance and some of the management work: they run most of the jobs on the golf course. We help with transitional employment and offer a vocational program in order to help them find and be successful in competitive employment in the community. We have resume and writing workshops, and we provide job coaches as well.”
From increasing physical exercise to enhancing socialization skills to providing veteran employment opportunities, the golf course uses the sport as a means of assisting the seniors in a number of ways.
The Heroes Golf Course is open to the public 365 days a week from sunrise to sunset.
The course will be hosting a Youth Golf Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 28 for children ages 5-14. The entry fee is $40 and includes green fees, refreshments, lunch, raffle, and an awards ceremony. All proceeds go to benefit the golf course and local veterans.
Heroes Golf Course is located at 11301 Wilshire Blvd. in West Los Angeles.
For more information, call 310.473.0710 or visit heroesgolfcourse.com.