Thursday, October 30, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;56.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/bkn.png;2014-10-30 14:06:05
Saturday, August 16, 2014

Nashua golfers happy to support Folds of Honor

Dean Shalhoup

There are two reasons the color green so often comes to mind when the topic is “country clubs”: the handsomely manicured grass of their golf courses and the formidable number of greenbacks it often takes to be a member.

Nashua Country Club, which will turn 100 years old in 2016, is no exception, and although Greater Nashua generally falls in the upper end of the middle of the socioeconomic scale, there are certainly plenty of richer country clubs across the nation. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

There are two reasons the color green so often comes to mind when the topic is “country clubs”: the handsomely manicured grass of their golf courses and the formidable number of greenbacks it often takes to be a member.

Nashua Country Club, which will turn 100 years old in 2016, is no exception, and although Greater Nashua generally falls in the upper end of the middle of the socioeconomic scale, there are certainly plenty of richer country clubs across the nation.

So it’s quite impressive to learn, as I did this week from NCC member Norm Belanger, that when it comes to philanthropic causes such as the annual Folds of Honor Foundation’s Patriot Golf Day, good ol’ Nashua CC perpetually ranks in the top 20 most generous clubs among the thousands that host the tourney each year.

As has been the case since Dan Schuster brought the Patriot Golf Day to Nashua in 2009, this year’s tourney will take place a week ahead of most others, which puts it on Sunday, Aug. 24, rather than the more common Labor Day weekend.

The purpose of the tournament is to raise funds for the Folds of Honor’s scholarship foundation, which provides college scholarships for the children and spouses of military men and women who were disabled or killed while serving in U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The main reason local organizers like to get the word out, Belanger said, is not so much to recruit golfers – there are plenty of members eager to play a round for the cause – but to make sure young men and women right here in Greater Nashua and in New Hampshire know the foundation exists.

Plus, Belanger added, there are never too many donors and sponsors, and every pledge or offer is welcome.

As of this week, well over $100,000 has been pledged in donations or sponsorships, Belanger said, which is pretty cool when you consider that no donation is too small.

For instance, sponsoring a hole in Nashua’s tournament starts at $100. At the extraordinarily moneyed Medinah Country Club near Chicago, which features three 18-hole courses, enforces a fairly draconian golfer dress code and touts itself a “world class facility” complete with guarded entry gates, the threshold is $100,000.

“A friend of mine who lives near there said there’s no way he can afford to belong, and he’s a doctor,” Belanger said with a laugh.

In Nashua, members just pay the $25 greens fee to play in the tourney.

“But most pay more – some a lot more,” Belanger said.

At tournament’s end – Belanger estimates 3:30 p.m. or so – comes the big attraction everyone can watch: the ball drop, which raises funds by selling golf balls for $10, then loading them into a helicopter, which hovers overhead and – presto – it’s suddenly raining golf balls.

Prizes go to lucky donors whose golf balls land closest to the targets.

Patriot Golf Day is the flagship fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which Oklahoma Air National Guard Maj. Dan Rooney launched in 2007.

Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot who owns a golf course and is a member of the Professional Golfers Association and U.S. Golf Association, was driven to create the foundation after returning home and, according to a statement on www.foldsofhonor.org, “witnessed a profound situation.”

That situation, according to the website, met Rooney head-on when he returned from his second of three tours in Iraq.

When his flight, which carried the body of a corporal killed in action, touched down, Rooney watched as the casket was escorted to where the corporal’s family stood.

Rooney was especially moved by the sight of the corporal’s young son. According to the website, that represented “the other side of war” and prompted Rooney to think of his “own beloved wife and little girls at home.

“The experience … was instantly life-altering for Rooney,” the statement concludes.

Part of that equation, Rooney discovered, was that way too often, children of soldiers killed in action or injured to the point they could no longer provide for their family suddenly had their college plans pulled out from under them.

Rooney said his goal in founding the foundation is to “provide healing, hope and an opportunity for dreams to be realized.”

According to the FOHF website, more than 60,000 U.S. troops have been killed or disabled in the operations known as Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. As of Jan. 1, nearly 1.5 million family members have been affected by the soldiers’ multiple deployments.

What’s worse, more than 87 percent of military dependents have suffered adverse effects, according to the website. Government support exists, but by itself isn’t sufficient “without proactive civilian organizations to assist.”

Dean Shalhoup’s column appears Saturdays in The Telegraph. He can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).