The Ukrainian Golf Pros Swapping Clubs For Guns

"Two weeks ago, we were teaching golfers how to grip a 7-iron. Now, we are learning to grip weapons to defend our land"

Soldiers in Ukraine
(Image credit: Twitter: @PgaUkraine)

The ongoing events in Ukraine are sickening to see, with a reported 2 million people fleeing the country as Russia continues its invasion. Among those 2 million, are PGA of Ukraine member Jeff Vinall and his wife, Anna, who managed to escape to Poland.

Describing the trip as "harrowing and traumatizing", Vinall explained how it is even worse for the people who remain behind, with his "brothers and sisters" from the PGA of Ukraine "all in their hometowns, holding rifles and making Molotov cocktails as they prepare to face the full onslaught of the Russian war machine."

"Two weeks ago, we were teaching golfers how to grip a 7-iron. Now, we are learning to grip weapons to defend our land," a PGA of Ukraine blog writes.

For Jeff and Anna, the couple are currently situated in the Polish city of Krakow, where they are doing all they can to help refugees fleeing Ukraine. Their goal is to raise funds to "help the current activities as we mobilise for war."

They posted images on their @PgaUkraine Twitter account showing Ukrakian golf pros swapping their clubs and golf gear for guns and army overalls. The golf pros pictured are based in the capital Kyiv and the eastern second-city of Kharkiv.

See more

Specifically, the duo want to assist civilians in escaping from hot zones of heavy fighting, deliver needed medicine to hospitals, assist the families of the civil defence corps and assist refugees at the Polish border.

Currently, Jeff and Anna are working hard to create a secure site for donations, with the funds received being distributed throughout the Ukraine to help the support of "our members, our nation, and our freedom." For more information, check out PGA of Ukraine's Twitter here, as well as Jeff and Anna's story at Kyiv Golf Academy

Meals are prepped in Kyiv

Meals are prepared for refugees and people in need at a camp in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the past week, the golfing world has united behind Ukraine and the country’s people with 'Golfers For Ukraine', an industry-wide effort to raise donations for UNICEF, the United Nations charity dedicated to providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children affected by the crisis.

Speaking ahead of this week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced the initiative and explained the rationale behind the move. He said: “Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine and those caught in the crosshairs of the conflict. We hope for an end to this senseless violence and a peaceful resolution. The game of golf has a way of rallying around important causes and this is one.”

The move will see players, caddies and staff wear blue and yellow ribbons (the colours of the Ukrainian flag) at this week’s unofficial fifth Major as a show of support for the Ukrainian people. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is one of the golf organisations that has donated to Golfers For Ukraine and encouraged golfers to do the same.

Donate to Golfers For Ukraine

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x