Shortly after World War II, the American Lake Veterans Hospital decided that it would add a golf course to its grounds to benefit the soldiers recovering in their facility. The course was designed as a place of respite rather than rehabilitation, and the special needs of the disabled were not taken into account at the time. Still, it was valued as an asset of the hospital and served patients healing from all types of injuries for many years.
In 1995, funding by the VA was eliminated and the future of American Lake Veterans Golf Course was uncertain. Volunteers stepped in to continue work on the course and keep it operating, but the course had fallen into disrepair over many years of service and there was little money available for the needed improvements.
The Friends of American Lake Veterans Golf Course was founded on May 3, 2004 and immediately launched funding efforts to underwrite ambitious plans for the needed improvements and to make the course accessible to all veterans, not just the able-bodied. The resulting facility, once a little-known amenity, now attracts thousands of veterans every year.
The American Lake Veterans Golf Course is completely staffed by volunteers who maintain the course and provide services to the players. Many of these dedicated individuals first came to American Lake as patients and learned first-hand of the tremendous benefits of the course experience for wounded and recovering veterans.
Over the years, the Friends have funded a covered driving range, a covered pavilion for veterans events, larger tee boxes, handicapped accessible bunkers and greens, and specialized golf carts that allow mobility-impaired golfers to play.
The volunteers who live the mission of American Lake Veterans Golf Course see the results of their work every day.