FEDEX ST. JUDE CLASSIC TEAMS WITH CALLAWAY GOLF AND BIRDIES FOR THE BRAVE® TO HONOR TWO LOCAL WOUNDED HEROES
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s hard to imagine that injuries sustained during combat could actually save one’s life; but that is exactly what happened to retired U.S. Army Sergeant Phillip Hall – one of two wounded veterans who had the opportunity to participate in Birdies for the Brave’s Callaway Warrior Club Fitting Program during the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind this week, where they were fitted with their own set of custom clubs compliments of Callaway Golf. Hall was seriously injured during his deployment to Iraq in 2008, when a mortar attack knocked him from the top of his vehicle – compressing his spine and causing significant lung damage and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). While being treated in Germany, doctors discovered that Hall had stage 3 thyroid cancer. He was subsequently treated for his injuries as well as the cancer, and retired from the Army in 2009.
“It turned out to be a blessing,” said Hall, who now works as a finance manager at an automotive dealership in Montecello, AK. “I feel grateful to be alive, and am truly appreciative for the opportunity to be part of the fitting. It’s a great feeling to be recognized for your service, and is really an honor to be out here today.”
Former Army National Guard Sergeant Michael Stafford was equally appreciative for the opportunity to participate in the fitting as part of his ongoing rehabilitation from injuries sustained during his deployment in Iraq as a tank commander. While working as part of a security element that conducted house raids to seize weapons and flush out insurgents, Stafford’s Humvee hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), which blew a hole in the vehicle. The explosion also tore off his leg at the left knee, and left him with PTSD. Stafford spent the next year recovering, first at an Iraqi field hospital before being transferred to a hospital in Germany, and then Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington, D.C. As part of his physical and psychological rehabilitation, Stafford began playing golf and using his uplifting, positive attitude to help other wounded veterans heal through the game. He has since won many club championships and spearheaded numerous charitable efforts on behalf of wounded veterans.
“Golf has been my rehab…an outlet for getting rid of demons,” said Stafford, who currently works in golf course maintenance at Okolona (MS) Country Club. “Being out here today among all of these phenomenal PGA TOUR players is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am very grateful for the opportunity.”
While Hall and Stafford marveled at the many PGA TOUR players who surrounded them on the practice facility during the fitting, it was these two courageous heroes who became the center of attention. TOUR players who came by to express their gratitude and interact with the warriors included Graeme McDowell, Davis Love III, John Rollins, Tommy Gainey and Derek Fathauer. Other VIPs who stopped by included former NBA player and current owner of the Memphis Grizzlies Penny Hardaway; University of Memphis Girls’ Golf Coach Beth Harrelson; and former Big Break participants Tyler Neff and Clay Myers II.
“Golf is an extraordinary way for wounded service members to heal from the physical and psychological wounds of war, as well as a great coping mechanism as they reintegrate into civilian life,” says Callaway Golf Company Sales Representative Susie Burns, who participated in 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 proudly supported by the PGA TOUR which is dedicated to honoring and showing appreciation to the courageous members of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.