We are just days away from the kickoff of Patriot Golf Day 2011. Over 4,000 golf courses nationwide are expected to help provide healing and hope to those families who have been affected by the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Proceeds from Patriot Golf Day, September 2-5, will again provide scholarships and educational opportunities for families who have paid the highest sacrifice for our country.
In 2007, Major Dan Rooney of Broken Arrow, OK, himself a PGA member, organized the first Patriot Golf Day. Rooney is an F-16 fighter pilot and PGA golf pro. He has flown five tours of duty in Iraq. He felt compelled to organize a nationwide program that would raise money to fund scholarships for families of service men and women who have been disabled or lost their lives defending the United States. There will be more about Rooney in tomorrow’s edition of Part II on Patriot Golf Day.
Through the efforts of Rooney, the PGA of America and the United States Golf Association, $8.961 million has been raised for The Folds of Honor Foundation through Patriot Golf Day. Over 2,000 scholarships have been awarded, with 36 of those being presented here in Indiana. In 2009, the Indiana PGA arranged for scholarships through “The Folds” to be presented to Shelby, Gavin and Ashton Henry- the children of Gary Henry, of Greenwood.
On Monday, August 4, 2008, PGA Tour players were setting their sights on the final round of the PGA Championship, which had been delayed due to a wet weekend at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, MI. On that same day, Henry, a 34-year old firefighter from Greenwood, was dealing with his own issues across the world in Iraq.
He was a member of the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Military Police Company of Danville. Henry, a 12-year veteran of the Indianapolis Fire Department, was overseeing special operations rescues, specializing as a driver and a paramedic. Henry was on a combat operation in southern Baghdad while golf’s best players were preparing to play that final round of the ’08 PGA Championship.
Henry who was a sports enthusiast probably didn’t have golf on his mind that morning. His life came to an abrupt end that day when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle. Tragically, he left behind three children. Today, Shelby (17), Gavin (13) and Ashton (10) find themselves as benefactors of Patriot Golf Day Scholarships.
Several area golf courses will be running programs to help raise monies for Patriot Golf Day during Labor Day Weekend. Hickory Stick in Greenwood and Otter Creek in Columbus, will be asking golfers to donate to the cause when they tee it up over the weekend.
The Legends Golf Club in Franklin has a variety of things going on. The public is invited to “Cheeseburgers for Patriots” on Friday night from 6-7:30 p.m. The cost per person will be $15 and a portion from each meal will be donated to The Folds of Honor Foundation. A special program will take place with a national representative from Patriot Golf Day to bring even more awareness to this worthwhile cause. Reserve your spot by calling Ashely Davidson at 317/736-8596.
Maj. Rooney has also donated a Titleist Staff bag to The Legends. It is from the Patriot Cup Day held in Oklahoma on Memorial Day 2011. The golf bag contains the signatures of many PGA Tour players including Rickie Fowler, Tom Pernice, Jr., Peter Jacobsen, Craig Stadler, Scott Piercy, Mike Reid, Scott Simpson, Larry Mize, Corey Pavin, Tom Lehman, Gary Woodland, Harrison Frazar, Loren Roberts, Bo VanPelt, Brad Faxon, Hunter Mahan, Todd Hamilton, Scott McCarron, Brett Quigley, Brett Wetterich and Josh Teater.
In addition, the bag is signed by Rooney, entertainer Vince Gill, KU basketball coach Bill Self and Rich Lerner, from The Golf Channel. The Legends is selling raffle tickets for $2 each or 6 for $10. All proceeds from the raffle go to “The Folds”.
Rooney will also donate an unlimited number of Tommy Bahama shirts designed by Tom Lehman for anyone at The Legends who writes a check for $150 or more to Patriot Golf Day. These shirts feature a special logo honoring the dedication our troops. The shirt was Lehman’s gift to fellow his Senior PGA Champions at a dinner he hosted in May at Valhalla GC.
The Legends will also be asking its players to donate to Patriot Golf Day. Members who are participating in the club’s Ryder Cup matches- now renamed the Patriot Cup matches, will sport Patriotic uniforms during this weekend’s competition. The course will also feature American flags on its pins this weekend.
2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks. The events of that day are etched in the souls of all Americans. Let me remind you that 2,983 people perished from the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City; the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and that fateful Flight 93, which pummeled into the Pennsylvania countryside before it hit the U.S, Capital. These are the events that forced our country’s 10-year commitment to the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obviously, many Americans like Gary Henry have paid the ultimate sacrifice while defending the freedoms that we take for granted each day. Thousands of families all over the U.S. will never be the same because of the events related to 9/11. Osama Bin Laden became a household name along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, Americans have come to realize that this will be a long and bloody road.
Golfers all over America will be doing their part this weekend to make sure that we continue to help those families who need it the most. I encourage you to get involved with Patriot Golf Day, even if you don’t play golf. Stop by The Legends, Otter Creek or Hickory Stick this week and let a PGA pro help you say thanks for what our troops do everyday.