PENFIELD, NY – The PGA of America celebrates our PGA HOPE Graduates from around the country through the PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup which is in conjunction with the PGA Championship.

This annual event was named after the Secretary of Veteran Affairs in recognition of the Memorandum of Understanding between PGA REACH and the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The 2023 PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup was held on Monday, May 15, 2023 at Penfield Country Club in Penfield, New York.  Each team is made up of four PGA HOPE Graduates and one PGA Professional. PGA HOPE Carolinas was represented by PGA HOPE Daniel Island, made up of five veterans:

Michael Smith, PGA ● Navy

Curt Thomas ● Air Force

Derek Dryden ● Navy

Luke Howard ● Air Force

Tim Pope ● Air Force

Michael Smith, PGA has led PGA HOPE Daniel Island for the past five years, but it was his first time participating in this admirable event. Smith served for 4 years in the US Navy and is now the Head Professional at Daniel Island Club.

Curt Thomas, USAF, 15 years, 1LT, is currently a Maintenance Officer with the USAF Reserves, and Business Owner. Derek Dryden is a 20 year, retired US Navy Submariner, Lt Cdr, and a graduate of the US Naval Academy. Luke Howard is a 20 year, retired USAF pilot, Lt Col, and graduate of the USAF Academy. Tim Pope, an 8 year Active Duty USAF and former SSgt, is currently the Engine Program Manager with the Boeing Aircraft Corporation. All four PGA HOPE Graduates currently serve as Peer Mentors with PGA HOPE Charleston Programs.

The week started off on Saturday night with a welcome event for all participants and PGA Professionals to meet one another. That evening, Team Carolinas had the privilege of conversing with PGA Tour Player, Billy Horschel. On Sunday morning, all twelve teams enjoyed a practice round at Penfield Country Club following the 5 man scramble format. 


On the morning of the Secretary’s Cup the opening ceremonies started off with a thank you to our veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country by Buffalo Bills legend and NFL Hall of Famer, Thurman Thomas. This was followed by a helicopter flyover from the New York State Police and Mercy Flight Central. Team Carolinas was the 8th team to tee off. Their 9 hole round was filled with great shots, endless cheers & laughter, and strong team work. With 4 birdies under their belt, the team finished 4 under tying them for second place. 

“A great experience of teamwork, inspiration, and class during our time together,” says United States Air Force Veteran, Curt Thomas. “We worked hard and played hard and the experience of it all will last forever in my mind.”

Click here to learn more about the 2023 Secretary’s Cup!

PGA HOPE Carolinas (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is an adaptive golf program offered by our PGA Professionals as a rehabilitation tool to improve our Veterans’ quality of life by enhancing their mental, social, physical, and emotional well-being. There is NO COST to our Veterans. We serve our Veterans at twenty-one locations in North and South Carolina with an emphasis on helping those with physical and emotional disabilities that would most benefit from our initiatives.

Click here to learn more about PGA HOPE Carolinas!

PENFIELD, NY - MAY 15: Michael Smith, PGA putts during the PGA HOPE Secretary's Cup before the PGA Championship at Penfield Country Club on Monday, May 15, 2023 in Penfield, New York. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)