Country music star Sam Hunt made a special appearance on Military Appreciation Day at THE PLAYERS Championship this year, taking part in a special meet and greet with local military members and veterans, as well as performing a concert on the iconic 17th hole of the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. More than 30,000 people attended the show, which was preceded by a military appreciation ceremony with several notable highlights. The ceremony was kicked off by PGA TOUR player Graeme McDowell, followed by a flyover from the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard and the singing of the national anthem by U.S. Navy veteran Byron Rowe. The ceremony also included the presentation of a 100% mortgage-free home to a local wounded hero; remarks from PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan as well as retired General Raymond Odierno, who served as 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; and wrapped up with the concert.
Earlier in the day, THE PLAYERS underscored its support for our military by conducting an opening ceremony of the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost military hospitality chalet hosted by former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, featuring the presentation of Dell laptops to veterans supported by Birdies for the Brave homefront group K9s For Warriors, as well as several guest speakers. Among them were Allison Keller, who heads up the PGA TOUR’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative; U.S. Army Veteran Kayla Williams, direct of the Center for Women Veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; U.S. Navy Vice Admiral (Retired) Sean Pybus; and Krista Joseph, whose son, U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating, was killed in Iraq last year. During the ceremony, Vice Admiral Pybus announced that a K9s For Warriors service dog would soon be named after Charles and presented to a veteran with PTSD.
Other Birdies for the Brave military outreach and appreciation activities that took place during the week included a veterans’ career fair in the Patriots’ Outpost; an Operation Shower group baby shower for 40 military moms-to-be whose spouses are deployed members of local bases, which was hosted by PGA TOUR player and Birdies for the Brave Player Supporter Jim Furyk and his wife, Tabitha; and a Callaway Warrior Club Fitting on the practice facility at TPC Sawgrass, where two local wounded heroes had the opportunity to be fitted with their own set of custom Callaway golf clubs and receive tips from PGA TOUR players. All week long, active duty and Reserve military members, military retirees and their dependents enjoyed complimentary admission to the tournament, while veterans received discounted tickets. All military guests were also invited to enjoy complimentary food and beverages and premium views of the tournament in the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost.
Now celebrating its 11th anniversary, Birdies for the Brave is a national military outreach initiative proudly supported by the PGA TOUR, which is dedicated to honoring and showing appreciation to the courageous men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Since 2006, Birdies for the Brave has raised more than $17 million for 11 military homefront charities and annually conducts military outreach and appreciation activities during more than 80 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Web.com Tour. For more information about Birdies for the Brave, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.