Trevose resident John Carpineta has been named the PGA’s Philadelphia Section Golf Professional of the Year.
John is a golfer at Bensalem Country Club, where he has been a member since the early 1970’s.
But he did not win the award because of his golfing prowess.
He is a good golfer at 71 years-of-age, has held a PGA membership card since 2003, but has never won or even qualified for a major tournament.
What he does goes above and beyond shooting a good round of 18 holes.
John is Golf Professional of the Year because he has taught amputee and blind war veterans how to golf for the past 12 years!
When veterans of foreign wars return to this area, John takes them under his wing in the HOPE Program he runs at the golf club.
He literally gives them hope by proving to them that they can live with their war handicaps and take up a hobby to bolster their self-worth and give them happiness in their challenging lives.
PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is the “flagship military program” for the PGA.
The goal of the program is to teach golf to veterans with disabilities, emotional or physical.
John is the PGA Chair for the entire Philadelphia Section of HOPE, which comprises Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Northern Maryland.
Carpineta is both a Vietnam War veteran and golfer and wanted to use his expertise in both to help returning veterans.
Upon qualifying for his PGA card in 2003 by shooting two rounds of 76 or below and going through their training program, he called the Philadelphia Veteran’s Administration and asked if there was anything he could to help returning vets.
Chris Nowak from the Philadephia VA came to Bensalem and met with John, and the two started the SWING program for handicapped veterans.
Three years ago the PGA renamed it HOPE.
According to PGA REACH, the philanthropic arm of the PGA, “The program introduces the game of golf through a developmental 6-8 week curriculum, taught by PGA Professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency.” The HOPE program is cost free to all veterans who want to learn the game.
Interestingly, when John went to serve stateside at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia during the Vietnam conflict, he had never golfed in his life.
Carpineta’s entire golfing career is a story in serendipity.
He attended the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta and got to see first-hand the amazing play of Arnold Palmer.
John developed an appreciation for the sport and eventually took a janitorial job at Bensalem Country Club to supplement his income.
After a few years he became friendly with the instructors and other staff at the club and began taking lessons with golf instructor Jim Bogan.
This culminated with John earning his PGA card in 2003.
He describes returning to Augusta at age 64 with his PGA card and privileges such as attending VIP luncheons as “a Cinderella Story,” as was watching Tiger Woods amazing comeback win that year after Wood’s famous chip-in on the 15th hole.
It is upon returning from Augusta in 2003 that Carpineta contacted the Philadelphia VA to ask how he could help returning veterans.
This is the fourth major award that Carpineta has garnered from the PGA’s Philadelphia Section. He won the Player Development Award in 2015, and the Patriot Award in both 2017 and 2018, fall or his work with PGA HOPE.
PHOTO CAP: John Carpineta