GREENSBORO, N.C. – In 2006, PGA TOUR player Phil Mickelson created Birdies for the Brave to lend a helping hand to military members, wounded veterans and their families, who sacrifice so much in service to our country. This week, thanks to the support of Callaway Golf, Mickelson had the chance to also lend a glove.
During the PGA TOUR’s Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC, Callaway Golf provided two local wounded heroes with an opportunity to be fitted with their own set of custom clubs as part of Birdies for the Brave’s Callaway Warrior Club Fitting Program. As luck would have it, the only gloves that fit lefty U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Brad Pottorff were Mickelson’s.
A Purple Heart recipient from Camp Lejeune, NC, Pottorff was severely injured during his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2013 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was serving as the platoon leader for a heavy equipment platoon when he sustained five concussions over a four-day period resulting from an IED blast, mortar attack and 82 mm recoilless rifle fire when his platoon was ambushed by the enemy. Pottorff was medically evacuated from Afghanistan following the ambush and treated for his injuries, where it was discovered he had lost partial sight in his right eye and suffered hearing loss in his right ear and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Despite his injuries and 20 years of service, Pottorff retains his active duty status and is currently in care at Camp Lejuene.
“The club fitting was an incredible experience, not to mention that it was a happy coincidence that I was ‘forced’ to use a glove reserved for Phil Michelson,” said Pottorff. “I am so appreciative to Callaway Golf, Birdies for the Brave and the PGA TOUR, not to mention the Wyndham Championship, for caring enough to provide us with this unique opportunity. I hope to one day have the chance to meet Phil and let him know how grateful I am for creating Birdies for the Brave and giving back so much to military members and their families.”
Pottorff was joined at the fitting by fellow Purple Heart recipient and Camp Lejeune resident, U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Kyle Kohnke. Kohnke first joined the Air Force Reserves in 2004 and was deployed to Kuwait in 2006. He subsequently joined the Marine Corps, serving as a military police officer at a Forward Operating Base in Kajaki, Afghanistan. While patrolling the base one day, he was struck by enemy mortar fire, which left him with shrapnel in his leg and TBI. Due to his injuries, he was also forced to discontinue his career as a military police officer, but retains his active duty status after 12 years of service. He is currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East at Camp Lejuene.
In addition to being fitted with their own set of clubs, both heroes enjoyed a mini golf lesson and had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Callaway equipment truck, where they learned about the process involved in fitting PGA TOUR players for clubs on-site during PGA TOUR tournaments. The event was one of more than 15 Callaway-sponsored fittings scheduled to take place at PGA TOUR tournaments in 2015 as part Birdies for the Brave. The program is designed to aid in the rehabilitation process while showing gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our American heroes.
For more information, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org.