Continuing its long-standing support for our military, Callaway Golf joined with Birdies for the Brave to host a Callaway Warrior Club Fitting during the 2019 Desert Classic at PGA West in La Quinta, California. The fitting was the first of 15 that will be hosted during PGA TOUR tournaments in 2019, following 15 successful fittings in 2018 honoring 30 wounded heroes.
Designed to aid in the rehabilitation process while expressing gratitude to the courageous members of our U.S. Armed Forces, the Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program has fit more than 225 warriors since 2011. At each fitting, two military heroes have the opportunity to be fitted with their own custom set of Callaway Golf clubs; enjoy a mini golf lesson; and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Callaway equipment truck, where they can learn about the process involved in fitting PGA TOUR players for clubs on-site during PGA TOUR tournaments. At many events, participants have an opportunity to interact with and get tips from PGA TOUR players.
“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 the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave to express our sincere appreciation and give something back to those who do so much to keep America safe and free.”
During the Desert Classic, 28-year U.S. Navy veteran and Purple Heart recipient Shane McKenzie was overwhelmed by the opportunity to participate in the program. McKenzie sustained extensive injuries in Iraq while on patrol during a night raid with SEAL Team ONE on May 28, 2004. While exfiltrating the area, his patrol encountered an obstacle in the middle of the route, causing the vehicle to stop and sustain an attack by amateur level enemy action. McKenzie was thrown from his Humvee and knocked unconscious for a short period of time, which resulted in a moderate concussion.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said McKenzie. “I truly appreciate the generosity of Callaway and Birdies for the Brave. We had friends who never came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and we should never forget them and their families; however, golf helps me relax and take my mind off everything we’ve gone through on the battlefield.”
20-year U.S. Navy veteran Stu Wertz also appreciated being included. Wertz was injured in Iraq during a night raid with Ranger Regiment 2-75 in March 2006. Two Rangers, Staff Sergeant Ricardo Barraza, 24, of Shafter, California, and Sergeant Dale G. Brehm, 23, of Turlock, California, were killed in action during the operation. He was injured when a young male detonated himself while securing the compound along with four other soldiers. He sustained several entry wounds from ball bearing fragmentation, fracture to the left arm, and radial nerve damage.
“All I kept thinking was, I’m not worthy,” Wertz laughed. “It means the world to have the best in the industry work with us and put us in that tailored equipment…the same equipment that is given to so many PGA TOUR stars. It’s been beyond amazing.”
The Callaway Warrior Club Fitting is part of Birdies for the Brave, a joint effort by PGA TOUR, Inc., PGA TOUR Charities, Inc., and the TPC Network to honor and show appreciation to the courageous men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Veterans who are interested in participating in the club fitting program may fill out an application using the following link: https://birdiesforthebrave.org/callaway-warrior-club-fittings/.