CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two combat-wounded veterans were treated like PGA TOUR players this week during the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC, when they had the opportunity to participate in Birdies for the Brave’s Callaway Warrior Club Fitting Program. One of more than 15 fittings scheduled to take place during TOUR tournaments in 2015 thanks to the generosity of Callaway Golf, the event provided the opportunity for these two American heroes to be fitted with their own custom set of Callaway Golf clubs, take a tour of the Callaway truck where clubs are fitted for TOUR players on-site, and get some tips on the practice facility.
“Knowing that organizations like Birdies for the Brave and Callaway Golf provide these programs to wounded warriors, even when they don’t have to, speaks a lot about the type of people running these organizations. I have been hesitant to try golf for years since my injuries, but my experience with this event has given me the confidence to jump into the sport, and I am excited about it,” said Purple Heart recipient Marine Corporal Garrett Carnes following Monday’s event.
Carnes lost both of his legs after stepping on a pressure plate improvised explosive device (IED) while on dismounted patrol with the 3rd Battalion Third Marines in Afghanistan on February 19, 2012. He underwent more than 30 surgeries from the time he was evacuated to Camp Dwyer to his time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. During his recovery, he made a goal to be walking on prosthetics by the time his fellow Marines returned home from their deployment. After only six weeks of physical therapy, Carnes greeted his returning comrades standing on the tarmac. Carnes resides in Mooresville, NC, with his wife and son.
Joining Carnes in the fitting was fellow Purple Heart recipient Air Force Senior Airman Aubrey Hand III. Hand was left with traumatic brain injuries, severe nerve damage, a fractured heel and PTSD after an IED was detonated under his vehicle while on a route and culvert clearance mission with the 440th Security Forces Squadron in Afghanistan on August 11, 2012. Despite his injuries, Hand provided assistance to others in the vehicle, checked for secondary devices and helped pull the gunner from the vehicle. Hand resides in Tega Cay, SC, with his wife and newborn son.
“This was truly a fantastic experience with these two remarkable warriors, who showed all of us the definition of courage and perseverance,” said Callaway Golf Outside Sales Representative, North Carolina Territory Rich Calderon. “I can’t explain how gratifying it was to see how much they enjoyed the fitting. We are honored to work in partnership with the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave to express our sincere gratitude and give something back to these courageous American heroes, who have sacrificed so much to help keep America safe and free.”
The Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program is just one of many military outreach initiatives that are part of Birdies for the Brave, a military outreach initiative dedicated to honoring and showing appreciation to the courageous members of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Named in 2012 by the White House one of the top 20 charities that support military families, Birdies for the Brave was created in 2006 by PGA TOUR player Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, to support combat-wounded veterans. The PGA TOUR subsequently adopted Birdies for the Brave, and expanded it to include a wide variety of military outreach and appreciation efforts during PGA TOUR tournaments, as well as fundraising events conducted at the TOUR’s TPC Network of clubs – an effort that has raised more than $14 million for 11 military homefront groups that are supported by TOUR players. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.