A holiday golf marathon will be part of a month long effort to honor the focus of Memorial Day weekend. The Aloha Section PGA designated June as “Patriot Golf Month” in Hawaii, with more than 50 golf facilities and 100 professionals participating in the program to raise funds benefiting the Folds of Honor Foundation and PGA HOPE — programs with missions to provide aid to service members and families.
“It’s not too often do you get an opportunity to really say thank you to our servicemen and servicewomen, so this is a nice way to do it,” said Kevin Carll, head professional at Waialae Country Club and president of the Aloha Section PGA. “It’s obviously a great cause and it is nice to get everyone moving in one direction with one focus.”
Folds of Honor, founded by Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney in 2007, provides scholarships to spouses and children of wounded or killed service members. Since 2008, $737,100 in scholarships have been presented to 162 families in Hawaii through the Folds of Honor program.
“Obviously it’s honoring the sacrifices these men and women have made for our country and it’s really taking care of their legacy with these scholarships,” said Carll, who noted that Rooney has visited the islands over the years for the Sony Open in Hawaii. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) introduces veterans with disabilities to golf “to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.”
Courses will hold various events to raise funds, including clinics and lessons and par-3 contests, along with raffles, sales and donations, toward the effort with a goal of raising at least $75,000.
Ko Olina Golf Club will help kick off the campaign with its “100 Holes of Golf Marathon” on Monday. Two of the club’s professionals, Ryan Christensen and Keawe Soares, will team with local Callaway representative Joey Sakaue and TaylorMade’s Trevor Nishiyama to speed through the course (the target is to play at about a two-hour pace per 18 holes) starting at 6 a.m. with a sunset closing ceremony including six representatives from the various branches of the military.
The marathon is organized by Ko Olina general manager Greg Nichols, who also chairs the Patriot Golf Month for the ASPGA. “Golf is always about community and giving back,” ASPGA executive director Wes Wailehua said. “(Nichols) does an outstanding job every year of collectively getting the courses to coordinate statewide.
“It’s always been about people. We’re in the business of experiences with people and to be able to bring people together to raise money for our heroes and veterans I think is a tremendous thing and speaks very highly of the spirit of aloha and Hawaii in general.”