Youth from the Fort Hood community had the opportunity to test their golfing abilities and possibly learn something new at the Ben Hogan Youth Golf Clinic Saturday at the Courses of Clear Creek.
After hosting the Ben Hogan Classic for more than 200 active duty Soldiers the day prior, Judd Pritchard, chief executive officer of the Ben Hogan Foundation, was happy to be partnering with First Tee to provide Fort Hood youth a fun golfing experience.
“We want to recognize the entire military family,” Pritchard said. “It’s an extension of not only giving to the Soldiers (by) recognizing their service and giving them a day of gratitude, like we did yesterday, but also to acknowledge that their families also sacrifice for our country. The best way the Ben Hogan Foundation can do that is through our love of golf and loving Mr. Hogan. The lessons that their parents are learning in the military can also be learned in golf as well.”
J.R. Holland, executive director at First Tee – Fort Worth, was excited to be on Fort Hood hosting the children.
“It’s thrilling,” he said. “Through our First Tee general curriculum, we’ve always honored military families by providing them free programming. Any family that has a military family member as a parent, we provide programming at no charge to their children. This is just an extension of that and it’s kind of exciting to be on the base. It’s a lot of fun to get out here and work with the kids and just honor these families for all they’ve done for us.”
The day kicked off with a quick snake safety lesson from Game Warden Bryan Dulock, who partnered with Sarah Wheat, program manager at McLane Children’s Medical Center in Temple, to provide insight about being safe and aware while having fun outside. After taking a group photo, the children broke off into groups working on different golfing skills at different stations.
First Tee’s program instills a list of values in its participants which align with the Ben Hogan Foundations beliefs making it a perfect pairing.
“Through our programming and what we’re doing, they’re going to learn some of the things that make golf different,” Holland said. “I want them to walk away knowing they can play this game a little bit. The game itself, it’s humbling, but it teaches you a whole lot about life.”
“Our partnership with First Tee is great because within their (program) they’re also teaching these nine core values that we believe in because they personify what Mr. Hogan was about,” Pritchard said.“They probably learned them at an earlier age because of their mom or dad being deployed. I think it’s important for them to have those (values) and I think it’s important to let them know that we as a civilian world respect not only their dads and their moms … but the sacrifice they make too. Golf can teach them that in a little bit softer way or maybe a little more fun way, the things that they need to know for their everyday life.”
Golf is incredibly important to both Pritchard and Holland as well as the lessons it can provide children.
“I was the same way when I was a kid,” Pritchard explained. “Golf, to us, is a unique game in the sense of it’s really not about you versus somebody else, it’s about you against yourself. So you learn the lessons of integrity, you learn the lessons of sportsmanship, you learn about honesty and you learn about perseverance. Golf uniquely positions kids and adults to learn those hard lessons to be able to grow character and become better people from what they learned from the game.”
“I would say that it’s never too late to start the game of golf,” Holland stated. “For children, it’s an incredible way to make new friends … and spend your free time. If your free time is taken up with the game of golf, you’re not going to get in trouble, so let’s get after it.”
Pritchard was thankful for the hospitality the Ben Hogan Foundation has been shown at Fort Hood and he was happy to have had two more successful events at the Great Place.
“We’re just lucky to be here and Fort Hood has always been great to us,” Pritchard said. “Lt. Gen. (Sean) Bernabe (III Armored Corps and Fort Hood commander) has been fantastic for us this year in opening up the base for us, letting us share our passion for golf and honoring Soldiers and their families.”