In my 40-plus years of playing golf and my 20-plus years covering the game, I’ve been incredibly fortunate. I’ve had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things, see all corners of the globe, and meet some incredible people. As a junior who grew up on a little public course on Cape Cod, Mass., I’d never have fathomed being able to tee it up at such places as Augusta National, Pine Valley or Pebble Beach, or experience the whistling winds and a post-round 19th hole pint at St. Andrews in Scotland.
The historic settings are terrific, no doubt. But always, always, the magic of this game circles back to its special people. If you happened to have channel-surfed over to “Fox & Friends” this morning, you’d have seen and heard a couple of them: Major Dan Rooney and Major Ed Pulido of the Folds of Honor Foundation (foldsofhonor.org), who are using golf as a vehicle to change lives. They were joined bright and early this morning at Dallas National by a certain Texan you all might know, President George W. Bush, as well as Fox host Brian Kilmeade and PGA of America president Allen Wronowski to officially kick off the holiday weekend’s Patriot Golf Day festivities.
Patriot Golf Day, Rooney’s inspired vision that he began in 2007, will play out across more than 4,000 golf courses this Labor Day Weekend, and it could not follow a simpler model. Here’s how it works: If you play at a PGD facility, $1 of every green fee will be donated to the Folds of Honor Foundation, a non-profit that provides college scholarships for spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan. Players teeing it up at private clubs this weekend can donate $5 to the cause. Or more.
Pulido lost his left leg in 2004 when his SUV in which he was riding in Iraq ran over an IED. He still carries shrapnel in his body that doctors could not remove. Pulido, who friends call “Major Ed,” now sports a high-tech titanium leg, wears a purple heart on his lapel and carries a heart of gold inside his chest. His two daughters, Kaitlin and Kinsley, will attend college on scholarships provided by the Folds of Honor, a group that wants to help thousands more children just like these two young girls.
The Folds of Honor call to action is one that all should heed: Do you love your country? Do you enjoy your freedom? Then it’s up to the 99 percent of us who do not answer the call to national military service by stepping up and supporting the 1 percent that stepped forward to answer that calling – men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedoms every single day. Is your golf facility participating in Patriot Golf Day? It’s a question worth asking. If not, it’s never too late. The registration process is simple (go to http://tinyurl.com/3d8aqqt, or visit PlayGolfAmerica.com).
Bush was asked Thursday morning on Fox whether his frequent visits to see wounded vets leaves him “worn out.” No, he answered. Instead, he said he gets “inspired” when hearing stories such as the one that belongs to Major Pulido, he saluted Major Ed for making the most out of a second chance at life.
Fox was taping a few of the holes in Dallas today to air on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday. By then, let’s all hope enough people did their small part to give “Rooney & Friends” a giant weekend for a noble cause. As Major Rooney frequently reminds us, “Freedom isn’t free.”