OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — At one golf course, the Labor Day weekend was a time to reach out to help neighbors. That includes veterans of our nation’s military and the golf community’s effort to help them and their families.
Sometimes, a round of golf is more than a simple quest for birdies. Milburn Country Club in Overland Park is spending Labor Day hosting Patriot Golf Day where all veterans play for free, and there’s a special emphasis on helping those who serve in the U.S. military.
From the time golfers tee off in this event, they’re reminded of the sacrifices made for the freedom of all. Sean Dougherty is the head professional at Milburn Country Club. He says veterans mean a lot to the staff at Milburn. Their one-time colleague Michael Knapp was killed in Afghanistan while serving as a sergeant with the U.S. Army.
“When we first learned of what happened with Michael, the membership wanted to find a way to give back to his family,” Dougherty said. “Obviously, this is the first thing we thought of, and this would be a benefit to them.”
Folds of Honor benefits from these donations. That charity exists to provide scholarships to families of wounded and fallen warriors. Golfers are asked to make donations during their round.
Veterans such as John Renk understand the impact this cause can make. As an Army officer, he was stationed in the Bihn Thuan Province during the Vietnam War. Renk knows golf charities like this one matter, since plenty of his comrades never made it home to their loved ones.
“The fact that it all goes to education, it’s pretty cool,” Renk said. “This guy was killed in Afghanistan, and his daughter — she’s going to think of her father when she goes to school. That’s what paid for it. That gets to the heart of people.”
Dougherty says Milburn led the PGA’s Midwest Region in donations gathered last year. Club member Larry Johnson also served in the U.S. Army. He says he’s proud to be part of a club that’s dedicated to aiding veterans and their families.
“It’s a tremendous thing they do,” Johnson said. “For them to do this for the veterans coming back from Iraq or wherever, I think it’s a fine thing they do.”
The PGA of America has been hosting these charity golf events since 2007. In that time, Patriot Golf Days have managed to raise $17 million for charity and Folds of Honor has used them to award five thousand academic scholarships.