Phoenix, ARIZ. – “Unique” is one word used to describe the Patriot All-America Invitational, and in more than one way it earns this designation. From the time frame it takes place in, to the purpose it conveys, to the rare opportunities and experiences afforded to golfers during their time at the Wigwam resort- it surely is a golf tournament like no other.
The impact of the tournament carries on even after the champions lift their trophies and don their authentic leather flight jackets on NYE though. In addition to the golf and special festivities that highlight and honor the military throughout the week, there is one last piece to the Patriot All-America, the golf bag auction.
Throughout the tournament, each player carries a custom PING golf bag embroidered with the rank, name and military branch of a fallen or wounded member of the military. Golfers are typically matched with a fallen soldier who is from their home state or university. Some golfers even request family members or friends they’d like to represent.
Also attached to the golf bag is a laminated card describing the fallen soldier they are representing. Having this background makes for a deeply personal connection between the golfer and the bag they carry. As Lt. Col. Dan Rooney said to the golfers during the Opening Ceremony, “bring them on one last tour.
During the opening ceremony, which is when the players receive the custom golf bags, they are given one request: to bring their fallen soldier on one last tour around the golf course. A reminder that freedom is not free, and to never take for granted the opportunities you are given.
The golf bag auction works as a way to fundraise for the Folds of Honor charity which was founded by F-16 fighter pilot Dan Rooney. The charity uses funds to give educational scholarships to family members of those in the military who were killed or severely wounded while serving, thus upholding their mission to, “HONOR THEIR SACRIFICE.
EDUCATE THEIR LEGACY.” It is an outstanding organization that effects the lives of thousands of people across the country and all are proud to support their mission.
With each golfer being a college student themselves, they understand the importance of education and how important it is to have the opportunity to obtain a collage-level education. If it weren’t for golf, many of these student athletes might not be in the position they are now, as they rely on scholarship money to put them through university.