Area golf pros, courses help raise funds to benefit families of war heroes

On the cusp of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, several Central New York PGA-affiliated courses conducted Folds of Honor Foundation fundraisers over the Labor Day weekend to help the families of U.S. military members who have been killed or disabled during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At Tuscarora Golf Club in Marcellus, more than $10,000 was raised during a pro-am scramble tournament that involved active area military members.

“We had a great turnout Tuesday and the Tuscarora membership really got behind the effort,” said CNY PGA executive director Alan Seamans.

The event attracted 112 players, including 13 soldiers from Fort Drum, three from the 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard and numerous other veterans. Tuscarora members paid for 16 of the 28 teams, ponying up $500 for three members and then adding in either a member of the military or a CNY PGA pro as the fourth.

The Folds of Honor Foundation and its companion Patriot Golf Day program have raised more than $8 million nationwide since being founded in 2007 by Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard and a PGA professional. Rooney rallied his PGA brethren to help military families who have made the ultimate sacrifice by asking club pros to create charity events each year for the cause. The foundation provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military personnel wounded or killed in service to their country.

At Timber Banks, a four-day Support Our Troops fundraiser generated between $8,000 and $9,000 for the Folds of Honor. A Saturday shootout tournament attracted 20 foursomes, including one led by U.S. Air Force Col. Kevin W. Bradley, commander of the 174th Fighter Wing.

Timber Banks owner Gary Pooler donated $100 from each foursome ($2,000), plus $5 from every round played ($1,500) over the four-day Labor Day weekend. Raffles and donations generated several more thousand dollars.

“Last year we raised roughly $1,500, so this year we wanted to at least double that amount, with a ultimate goal of $5,000,” said Perry Noun III, Timber Banks’ general manager. “That we were able to raise nearly $9,000 after putting this together in a little less than three weeks was astounding. But I think it helps that people can easily identify with the cause.”

At Dutch Hollow, head pro John Lombardo and Dick’s Sporting Goods pro Mike Hogan played 98 holes of golf in the pouring rain Monday during their third annual Folds of Honor marathon. The duo slogged ahead in the miserable conditions until the course became unplayable.

“Our sponsors told us that we didn’t have to play, but in the military the rain can’t bother them, so we played as long as we could,” Lombardo said. Together, the pair raised more than $1,000.

Hall-of-fame loss
Most who play competitive sports rarely stop to ask who put on the tournament and why it ran so smoothly. People like John Sherlock is why, and sadly he will no longer be around to help.

Sherlock, the longtime owner of The Trophy Shop in Westvale, died Aug. 23 at age 82.

For youngsters who don’t know what he meant to the Syracuse sports community, consider this: He was a two-time past president of both the Syracuse and New York State golf associations, contributing countless hours to run tournaments overseen by those organizations. He was a USGA rules official, showing up at endless events to lend his advice. He was a past president and lifetime member of the area’s International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, helping to train most of the officials you see today on CNY’s courts.

But most of all, he was one of those invisible men behind the scenes; the kind who work without glory ‚ or often a thank you ‚ to make sure things run right for everyone else. For that lifetime effort, he was properly recognized, being inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

From the rest of us, we need to offer a belated “Thank you, John.”

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