About the Patriot All-America
College football has its annual bowl season and college golf will now be part of that bowl-like experience thanks to this unique tournament that is held between Christmas and New Years in the Valley of the Sun. The Patriot All-America Invitational, which features PING All-Americans from the previous season in NCAA Divisions I, II and III, as well as All-Americans from the NAIA, NJCAA and AJGA ranks, will take place annually from Dec. 27-31 at the Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park.
The 54-hole amateur event held at the Wigwam Resort is the first of its kind to combine the talents of 142 nationally recognized players in a holiday bowl-like experience. It is the combined effort of the Arizona Golf Association, the Golf Coaches Association of America and the Wigwam Golf Resort in conjunction with the tournament’s beneficiary, the Folds of Honor Foundation.
The unique aspect of this Championship is that it honors our military heroes. In fact, that is the foundation of this event. We honor the military throughout the week. At the opening ceremony, each golfer receives and carries a commemorative PING golf bag that bears the name and branch of a fallen or wounded hero from their hometown or school. Additionally, all of the golfers have the opportunity to visit Luke Air Force Base, the training center for our nation’s F-16 and F-35 fighter pilots. There, they meet with the General, fighter pilots and crew, and tour the base while participating in activities rarely seen by civilians.
The players carry the bag and honor that soldier throughout the week. Upon conclusion, the bags are shipped back to the player’s school where they are auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the Folds of Honor charity.
Why Folds of Honor?
Folds of Honor was founded by F-16 pilot Major Dan Rooney to provide scholarships and assistance to the spouses and children of those killed or disabled in service to America. Each year, following the Championship, the PING bags are shipped to the player’s school where they are auctioned off. Proceeds from the auction are donated to the Folds of Honor. It seems a fitting tribute – students helping other students.
Arizona Golf Association
The Arizona Golf Association (AGA), which was founded in 1923, is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) association that serves as the official governing body of amateur golf in Arizona. What started as a small group of golfers who got together to run the annual Amateur Championship has grown to an association of more than 700 men’s and women’s clubs, serving nearly 80,000 individual members. Today, the AGA is a volunteer-based organization directed by amateur golfers passionately dedicated to promoting the game of golf and providing valuable benefits and services to its members.
The mission of the Arizona Golf Association is “To foster the enhancement and expansion of the game of golf by leading in the development of member and information services, the promotion of opportunities for all who want to play, and the protection of the game’s integrity and valued traditions.”
Golf Coaches Association of America
There are more than 750 members in the GCAA representing all three NCAA divisions as well as NAIA and NJCAA. The GCAA annually administers collegiate competitions, including the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship and the Palmer Cup. In addition, the GCAA administers the team that represents the United States in the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup. Through its CEO and national office staff, the GCAA is also responsible for coordinating several recognition and educational events each year. The GCAA functions as the primary award granting organization for men’s collegiate golf and has honored thousands of student-athletes and coaches since its inception.
The Wigwam is set amid 440 acres in the picturesque residential community of Litchfield Park, Arizona, bordered by Phoenix and accented by the adjacent White Tank Mountains. Originally developed as a master-planned community by Paul Litchfield, then President of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the community remains exclusive and most proud of its storied background. Inspired by the traditional adobe-style architecture, casual lifestyle influences are experienced everywhere at the resort – from the comfortable decor to unique dining experiences. The park-like, sprawling layout of this historic property provides tranquility, thereby inspiring creativity and imagination from its guests.
Perhaps what The Wigwam is best known for are its 54 holes of championship-caliber golf. Among them are two Robert Trent Jones, Sr. courses that include the famed Gold Course, and The Patriot (formerly the Blue Course). Rounding out the golf experience is The Heritage (formerly the Red Course), designed by renowned course architect Red Lawrence.