NORWALK, Ia. — Warrior Run Golf Course is technically closed on a picturesque Saturday morning, but there’s still a cluster of carts lined up at the driving range and the obligatory group of coffee-drinkers sitting in the clubhouse.
Assuming golf pros other than Mark Burke would call it a driving range.
A few of the men teeing off behind orange traffic cones don’t know that craters and dirt trails pock the course’s west side because of an uprooted irrigation system, and those who do know don’t care.
Burke has assembled this hardy bunch for a satellite program years in the making, trying to spread goodwill through golf and get Des Moines-area disabled veterans out for lessons and clubs and sunshine.
That means his course is open.
“Using this program and learning how to play golf has been kind of a godsend,” Eugene Cherry, a vision-impaired veteran, shares in the clubhouse. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a blessing, too.”
Starting in 2007, Burke spent weekends pacing Interstate 80 to help the GIVE Foundation (Golf for Injured Veterans Everywhere) get things going at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. The U.S. Navy Seabee turned certified PGA instructor felt he had to pitch in to a not-for-profit program designed to give veterans at the Iowa City VA Medical Center a treatment option by learning and playing golf.
“I’ve found that teaching is what I love the best,” Burke said. “And I knew there were people sitting in the dark, not getting out. I was excited to give them something to do.”