PDT Staff Writer
Golfers will tee off today for the second day of the Patriot Golf Day event at the Elks Country Club. Golfers from around the region played their first round Friday at the Shawnee State Park Golf Course. The event, held across the country, benefits the Folds of Honor Foundation which provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving their country.
Golfers teed off after opening remarks by Portsmouth Firefighter and Chief Warrant Officer 3, Chris Lowery of the U.S. Army.
“After doing some research on this golf tournament, and I actually found that two of the guys who crashed in my helicopter in Iraq actually received money. There is one guy whose wife receives money, and the son of the other guy receives money from the foundation,” Lowery said. “I wasn’t in the crash, but it was my helicopter which I had loaned out.”
The event is coordinated by Bob and Connie Pratt
“It’s open play, and I think tee times are scheduled through 1 p.m. today,” Connie Pratt said. “To be eligible for all the prizes you have to be among the first 144 golfers.”
Connie said there was a $10,000 hole, a Carnival Cruise hole, a golf vacation, and two $100 prizes for closest to the hole and the longest putt.
“This is phenomenal,” Bob Pratt said. “Our country is based on what our military people do to protect us. And to be able to generate scholarship money for military people who have given their life defending our country, that’s a small small token to pay.”
Among those participating in the tournament were the members of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC program at Greenup County High School, who conducted the duties of the color guard for the event.
“It’s a good opportunity for the kids. The community has kind of surrounded and built that program and it gives the kids the opportunity to be a part of something,” ROTC Commander Master Gunnery Sergeant (retired) Paul Sites said. “With a big school like that, the Marines actually look at the numbers and the opportunities, and this year we are at about 105 students. The school population is about 820. So we’ve got a big chunk, and the kids live in a patriotic community. The kids enjoy being involved in it, so it keeps getting stronger every year.”
Staff Sergeant Gerald J. Fedorko of the United States Army was there with a tent distributing water bottles and towels from the Army to those participating in the tournament.
“I had no idea they could raise $1.1 million in one day when this first started (six years ago),” Lowery said. “That is incredible to me.”
In the last five years, the professional Golfers Association (PGA) professionals have been instrumental in raising more than $12.8 million by hosting Patriot Golf Day events at their facilities, allowing the organization to distribute more than 2,600 scholarships internationally, in all 50 states and 41 PGA sections.
“This is a great way for the golf industry to help the families of those who have lost their lives or have been injured so that we may have our freedom,” Tyson Phillips, PGA Professional at Shawnee State Park Golf Course, said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for golfers in our community to give back to those who have given everything.”
Connie Pratt reminded area golfers that the event continues Sunday at the Elks Country Club on Ohio 73. The opening ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. with U.S. Navy veteran Him Saddler serving as master of ceremonies.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.