Labor Day has come to be celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer, and it is a holiday that is often regarded as a day of rest and a time to party. It was originally organized to celebrate various labor associations and their contributions to the United States economy. The first Labor Day was held in 1882. Parades were intended to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations.
In addition to these traditions, golf courses and PGA Professionals across America are celebrating Patriot Golf Day, which raises money for the Folds of Honor Foundation. The inaugural Patriot Golf Day was held in 2007. It was started by Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 Pilot, PGA Professional and USGA member. On Labor Day 2007, Rooney asked golfers to add $1 to their greens fees. His request resulted in donations of more than $1.1 million from more than 3,200 golf facilities. In the last five years, golfers nationwide have been instrumental in raising millions through Patriot Golf Day events resulting in more than 2,600 donations to recipients in all 50 states and 41 PGA sections.
Rooney launched Patriot Golf Day following his second of three tours of duty in Iraq. After returning from his tour, Rooney witnessed a profound display of a family’s grief as they welcomed home the remains of Corporal Brock Bucklin. Inspired by this tragic homecoming of a fallen b solider, Rooney started Folds of Honor to support military families. Patriot Golf Day is the flagship fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, an organization that provides postsecondary educational scholarships for the children and spouses of military men and women disabled or killed while serving our great nation.
Since 2007, more than $12.8 million has been raised through Patriot Golf Day, allowing Folds of Honor to award more than 3,500 scholarships. There are more than 250,000 dependents of fallen and wounded military service men and women from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and 87% of those dependents do not qualify for federal educational assistance. Patriot Golf Day allows the Folds of Honor to present an ongoing tribute to our brave service members by ensuring that the families of fallen and wounded warriors have hope for the right educational start to life and best future possible.
Patriot Golf Day 2012 will again be held during Labor Day weekend, August 31 to September 3. Golfers across the country are asked to add an extra dollar to their greens fees to fund Folds of Honor scholarships. In addition, PGA Professionals and participating golf clubs are hosting contests and other events to raise funds. We sometimes forget how lucky we are to have not only the ability to afford golfing but also the physical ability to play. Education should not be denied to anyone.
Next time you are on the golf course and become angry over a topped shot or because the pace of play is slow, think of our fallen soldiers and their families. If you are interested in joining the Patriot Golf Day Mission and touching the lives of deserving military families, please visit their website at Patriotgolfday.com. I am proud to say that The Bridge and most of the Metropolitan golf clubs will be sending their support.
Darren deMaille is the Head Golf Professional at The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Prior to The Bridge, Darren worked at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla. and The Country Club of Fairfield in Fairfield, Conn. Darren has had many top 100 instructors influence his philosophy but most of his principles are based on Jack Nicklaus’ way to play golf.