CALLAWAY GOLF JOINS WITH BIRDIES FOR THE BRAVE® TO HONOR WOUNDED HEROES DURING THE HONDA CLASSIC
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Callaway Golf joined with Birdies for the Brave this week to honor two local wounded heroes by providing them with the opportunity to be fitted with their own set of custom golf clubs on the practice facility at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., during The Honda Classic. In addition to the fitting, the warriors enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of the Callaway Equipment Truck, where TOUR players are fitted on-site during tournaments, and had the chance to interact with PGA TOUR player and Birdies for the Brave Player Supporter Jerry Kelly. The program is designed to aid in the rehabilitation process while expressing gratitude to the courageous members of our U.S. Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice.
“Golf is a wonderful way for wounded heroes to heal from the physical and psychological wounds of war, as well as a great coping mechanism as they reintegrate into civilian life,” says the PGA TOUR’s Matthew Gregory. “We feel privileged to work in partnership with Callaway Golf to express our sincere appreciation and give something back to those who do so much to keep America safe and free.”
Both warriors were very appreciative for the opportunity to emulate what it’s like to be a professional golfer on the PGA TOUR – including Purple Heart recipient U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Gordon from Clermont, Fla. SSG Gordon was serving as the company sergeant with A Company, 1-5 Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, in Tal-Afar, Iraq, when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle. The explosion resulted in the loss of his right leg above the knee and severe damage to his left leg and left arm. He spent a year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, undergoing multiple surgeries and learning how to walk with a prosthetic leg. Following his recovery, he was re-introduced to golf by a local veteran group and has found it to be a great way to relax, focus and unwind.
“It was an awesome experience, and I am very appreciative to Callaway and Birdies for the Brave for the opportunity,” said SSG Gordon. “I had the chance to experience the day with my son, which was very memorable, and Mr. Kelly was extremely nice and very gracious to spend time with us and give us some swing tips on the driving range.”
Equally as appreciative was U.S. Army Sergeant Mark McKinney from Spring Hill, Fla. SGT McKinney was serving as a Medical Platoon Leader as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom when his platoon was ambushed, causing SGT McKinney to suffer a ruptured spine and severe knee injury. After receiving multiple surgeries for his spine and to save his knee, SGT McKinney was re-deployed to Afghanistan. While serving as the Task Force Duke Battalion & Brigade Medical Operations Officer, Forward Operating Base Salerno was attacked. During the attack, SGT McKinney broke his right wrist, sustained another severe injury to his knee and suffered bilateral nerve damage. He also suffers from PTSD and TBI. As a result of his injuries, SGT McKinney was medically retired and is permanently disabled.
In addition to the Callaway Warrior Club Fitting – one of 15 such fittings to be conducted during PGA TOUR tournaments in 2016 – military outreach and appreciation activities during The Honda Classic included the opportunity for 20 active duty members of the U.S. Coast Guard from Southeast Florida to caddie for TOUR players during the Wednesday Pro-Am, and a Military Appreciation Day celebration presented by United Technologies that will be hosted on Thursday, which will be highlighted by a concert on the Michelob ULTRA Terrace at PGA National Resort & Spa featuring the Kenny G Band.
For more information about the Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program, please visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org/callawaywarriorclubfittings/. For more information about Birdies for the Brave – now celebrating 10 years of supporting military families and wounded heroes, please visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org.