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The American Lake Veterans Golf Course reopens front nine

Volunteers at the American Lake Veterans Golf Course tee off to begin the inaugural round of the newly renovated front nine holes. Photo Credit: American Lake Veterans Golf Course

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The American Lake Veterans Golf Course is the nation's only course designed specifically for the rehabilitation of wounded and disabled veterans. 

On June 6, the course improved on its mission when it reopened its newly redesigned front nine holes. The volunteers who helped to make this happen had the privilege of being the first golfers to play.

"It completes the major projects we projected back in 2007," said Army veteran Bruce McKenty, American Lake Veterans Golf Course general manager. "It also completed the construction of the Jack Nicklaus designed golf course for our veterans."

The course is on the grounds of the American Lakes Veterans Administration Medical Center in Lakewood, and it continues in its mission to provide rehabilitation, socialization, therapy and support to veterans.

In 2014, Nicklaus designed the back nine of the course, and that work was completed in 2016. To make the front nine holes compatible with the back nine, he redesigned them; however, it would take time to raise funding.

The Friends of American Lake Veterans Golf Course began work on raising the necessary $2.5 million to complete the work. This is not the first time the group has taken the lead in securing funding. In 2010, it raised $1.4 million for a new club house, and in 2016 it raised $3.5 million for the back nine holes which had been designed pro bono by Nicklaus.

Since the group's inception in 2004 it has raised over $12 million worth of capital projects and new equipment to support the course's mission.

The renovation work on the front nine was scheduled to take seven to eight months to complete; however, the renovation took a year due to delays in the final approval of the project by the Veterans Administration, COVID restrictions and supply chain issues.

"Our ground crew volunteers assisted on many projects but did not do any of them by themselves," added McKenty.

The renovation consisted of the reconstruction of all greens, surrounds, approaches and sand traps; the replacement of an antiquated irrigation system; the removal of about 350 trees to allow for open air and sunlight on all of the greens, tee boxes; and the construction of new asphalt cart paths.

"The key word here is VOLUNTEERS," emphasized McKenty.

"If you would have told me 20 years ago that a group of volunteers would have convinced the federal bureaucracy to give permission to do what we have done, I would have told you that you are absolutely crazy."

The golf course is entirely managed, operated and maintained by approximately 230 volunteers, many of whom are veterans; there are no paid employees. The course receives no outside funding, only what it raises from front desk sales and what the volunteers can promote through donations from local foundations and individuals.

"This has been miraculous," concluded McKenty.

For more information about The American Lake Veterans Golf Course and any upcoming special summer events, visit

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