Know Your Neighbor: James Tipton


By Paul Bonnette

PTSD is something that retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. James “Tip” Tipton knows a lot about. With twenty-three years of honorable service in the Air Force including thirteen deployments, his career was tragically cut short after his last deployment by a car accident that took away his ability to walk, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. For Tip, this traumatic event turned his life upside down.

“Prior to being paralyzed and injured, I golfed quite a bit. When I became injured, I didn’t golf for five or six years, and I got really depressed and got hooked on opioids and benzos and alcohol and suicidal ideations.”

It was then that Tip was introduced to the Stand Up and Play Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping those with impaired mobility stand up and engage in recreational activities such as golf, archery, and fishing with a special device called the “Paramobile.”

The Paramobile is a stand-up electric wheelchair originally designed for disabled golfers allowing them the opportunity to enjoy new freedom and independence while promoting circulation and digestion.

After witnessing the benefits of the Paramobile for himself, Tip realized that others in the Veteran community needed the same benefit.

James Tip Tipton“After I was introduced to this Paramobile golf cart through the Stand Up and Play Foundation it changed my life dramatically. It saved my life as a matter of fact. It drastically changed my life, and I told them I needed more, and they didn’t understand what I meant. I told them that if this can change my life this much, then I needed to impact other’s lives. They awarded me a golf cart and from there it just kept moving forward.”

With the goal of helping Veterans, First Responders and children with PTSD and/or disabilities through golf therapy in partnership with the Stand Up and Play Foundation, Tip founded the Florida Panhandle Golf Therapy Alliance (FPGTA). Today the FPGTA uses the game of golf to improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of veterans, first responders, and others who have suffered physical injuries and PTSD.

For Tip, forming the FPGTA has benefitted his life even more than he could have imagined.
“Initially this was designed to be a veterans-based program, to help veterans who suffer with PTSD and I discussed this with my board that PTSD is not prejudiced. It affects more than just veterans. We have a huge population of adults and children with mental and physical disabilities here in Bay County. We need to reach out to them as well as our fire, police, and EMS. These folks see incidents and accidents every day and they are riddled with PTSD. They are basically right on the front lines daily and we need to aid them with the perils they are faced with every day. People always say, I’m not ready, just give me time. The bottom line is you don’t have to be ready; you just have to come and be around like minded people. If you wait until you’re ready, it will be too late.”

Using golf as a form of therapy, Tip and the FPGTA helps those who suffer with PTSD to learn how to better manage it.

“In essence we use golf as a modality for therapy. It helps people manage their PTSD. Our goal is to prevent and make people aware of suicide. If we can save one life, we are successful, but our goal is save all lives. We use golf and teach mindfulness, we get people back grounded and get them back out in nature and use golf as a modality for therapy and it’s proven to be very successful. It’s a multitude of things we do with golf, but it’s not just golf itself, we are teaching them to manage their anger and to control and manage their PTSD.”

For James Tipton, this is only the beginning of what he hopes to accomplish. Last year Tip and the FPGTA established the first annual Charity Golf Tournament at Bay Point Golf Club which raised money to help with the program. After the success of the FPGTA Charity Golf Tournament, he has high hopes that the 2024 tournament will be just as exciting.

“The tournament will be Friday March 8th and we have already begun soliciting sponsors and volunteers. I’m excited about how much community involvement we get and how many people love what we do and how much support we get from the community. I’m looking forward to this tournament being equally as good as it was last year. We just hope that this year, everyone has as much fun.”

For more information about the Charity Golf Tournament and the Florida Panhandle Golf Therapy Alliance please visit The FPGTA also hosts golf clinics every Tuesday starting at 8 a.m. at Bay Point Golf Club.