BIRDIES FOR THE BRAVE® TEAMS WITH CALLAWAY GOLF TO HONOR WOUNDED HEROES DURING AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – For many people, golf is an opportunity to relax and socialize. For PGA TOUR players, it’s a career. But for thousands of veterans who have returned home from combat with serious injuries, golf is salvation – a distraction from the memories of war, and an invaluable tool in the rehabilitation process. And thanks to Callaway Golf, wounded service members across the U.S. are having an opportunity to benefit from golf’s healing properties.
As part of Birdies for the Brave, a national military outreach initiative proudly supported by the PGA TOUR, Callaway Golf is providing wounded veterans at 15 TOUR events in 2016 with an opportunity to be fitted with their own customized set of brand new clubs through the company’s unique Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program. Participating veterans also enjoy private golf instruction; an exclusive inside-the-ropes tournament experience, including the opportunity to visit the Callaway Golf Equipment Truck and see how the clubs are made and fitted on-site for TOUR players; and for some, an invitation to compete alongside TOUR players in the Pro-Am.
“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 Director of Strategic Partnerships, Randy Rubin. “We are honored to work in partnership with 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.”
During this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Purple Heart recipient and former U.S. Army Sergeant Justin Bond from Hanford, CA, who was seriously injured during his tour of duty in Iraq, had the opportunity to interact with PGA TOUR players Jason Gore and Jerry Kelly and be fitted for his own set of clubs – which proved to be incredibly uplifting.
“Golf has been a great way for me to relax, focus and relieve stress,” said Bond. “I am so thankful to Callaway Golf, the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave for giving me this opportunity and showing combat veterans how much they care.”
SGT Bond was traveling in a convoy supporting a Marine unit in the Battle of Fallujah when his convoy was ambushed. He was shot in both knees during the attack, causing injuries so severe that his left leg required amputation above the knee. SGT Bond was treated by medics who prepared him for transport to the local hospital, where he was MEDEVAC’d to Landstuhl, Germany, and eventually to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He spent more than 15 months in recovery, enduring more than 34 surgeries to save his other leg. SGT Bond now operates a non-profit organization called Our Heroes’ Dreams, where he helps veterans find a new mission after they return to civilian life.
Joining SGT Bond at the fitting was wounded hero U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Jason Butler from Oceanside, CA, who was assigned to the 23rd Georgian Light Infantry Brigade during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2012. He received head, neck, and lower back injuries as the result of concussive explosives during multiple engagements with enemy combatants during Operation JAWS. SGT Butler was treated by medics who prepared him for CASEVAC to San Diego for higher echelon care and was diagnosed with two cracked vertebrae and a herniated disc in the neck as a result of the explosion as well as torn ligament in his right shoulder. After the surgeries, SGT Butler reported experiencing flashbacks, night terrors, insomnia, anxiety and depression, and was diagnosed with PTSD and TBI.
“As someone dealing with PTSD, golf is a great way for me to focus, unwind, and get my mind off things,” said SGT Butler. “It has been a big help in my rehabilitation and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be included in the fitting today.”
The Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program is just one of many military outreach initiatives that are part of Birdies for the Brave, a program 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 originally created in 2006 by PGA TOUR player Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, to support combat-wounded veterans. Since then, Birdies for the Brave has joined with TOUR players, TPC club members and corporate sponsors to raise more than $15 million for military homefront charities that are supported by TOUR players and conducts outreach and appreciation activities during more than 60 tournaments annually. For more information, please visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook. For more information on the Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program and to view a list of upcoming events, please visit https://birdiesforthebrave.org/callawaywarriorclubfittings/