Although Kyle Stanley won the Quicken Loans golf tournament last week, many fans focused their eyes on last year’s champion Billy Hurley III.
Hurley, the only military veteran on the PGA tour, helps support and facilitate disabled veterans to get on the golf course for some fun and recreation.
It so happens that the Quicken Loans stop in Bethesda, Maryland, is one of the most overt pro-military venues the PGA Tour hosts. Each day of the tournament, on a wall at Avenal Farm, spectators posted tributes to the brave men of the military:
“You are a real hero!”
“Thank you for your bravery and love of our country!”
“Your service is never forgotten.”
“From an honoring and highlighting and saluting the military, this is the flagship event, and that’s certainly something that has been near and dear to me obviously and one of the reasons that I love the event so much,” Hurley said.
This year the 2004 graduate of the Naval Academy finished 9 over par and 63rd for the tournament. Hurley served five years as a Naval officer, including two years in the Persian Gulf.
The inspiring messages on the walls were taken down each day of the four-day tournament and were mailed to U.S. troops and USO centers around the world, USA Today reported.
The PGA tour continues to make efforts to recognize the military, by raising funds at tournaments and honoring active men and women on duty.
A tournament, held 10 days before the Quicken Loans event, some 30 miles away at the Lansdowne Golf Club, helped raise funds for the 10th annual Paralyzed Veterans Golf Open (PVGO). The PVGO, hosted by Agility, raked in over $469,000 for veterans employment and brought together several other foundations working to assist veterans.
The founder of The Stand Up and Play Foundation, military veteran Anthony Netto, couldn’t help himself from resorting to shouting out commands and critiques as he coached veterans, “You’re too far away, and that’s why you’re closing your club at the impact! Move closer. Move closer!”
Netto mobilizes himself around the course using a ParaGolfer, a type of motorized wheelchair that facilitates golfers to stand up while they swing the golf club.
Agility and Stand Up and Play announced a partnership to subsidize two new ParaGolfers to Andrews Air Force Base and Fort Belvoir as a result of the event.
A dozen players got to use the invention at the PVGO and were excited about their renewed ability to scoot about the course and take full swings.
Twelve veterans were able to use ParaGolfers at the PVGO, enabling them to enhance their golfing experience. “I call it a billy goat, ’cause it goes up anything. You can go anywhere on the course that your able body could go,” said eight-year Army veteran Bobby Fecteau.
Fecteau, who suffered two shattered cervical bones, thinks teeing-it-up helps him with his recovery.
Jabari Wright, an eight-year Army veteran who has struggled with mental distress after leaving the service, insists that “It’s a great defense against PTSD.”
Steve Greiner, PGA executive director of Links to Freedom Golf Foundation, claims golf helps with “long-term rehabilitation.” He explained, “There’s little risk of injury. (It’s) good for coordination, good for balance, and you can do it for a lifetime.