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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.
Golf Pros of the PGA of Ukraine - #supportUkraine #golf #PGA pic.twitter.com/3jcyNxsS0SMarch 9, 2022
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.
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.
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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