Four years ago, Major Dan Rooney was on a commercial flight shortly after finishing his second of three tours of duty in Iraq. As the plane touched down, the pilot made an announcement. “Ladies and gentleman, we have an American hero on board – Corporal Brock Bucklin – and his brother, Corporal Brad Bucklin, is accompanying him home from Iraq. As a sign of respect, please remain seated while Corporal Bucklin’s family receives him in his final homecoming.”
Rooney, an F-16 pilot with the Oklahoma Air National Guard, looked out the window as a casket was carried off the plane. Behind a fence just beyond the tarmac, Rooney could see Corporal Bucklin’s family members and a four-year old boy who would grow up without a father.
Back home in Broken Arrow, Major Rooney decided something had to be done to help the children of America’s fallen soldiers. He founded a charity called the Folds of Honor Foundation with the aim of providing college scholarships to the spouses and children of service members disabled or killed as a result of their sacrifice to our nation. Rooney chose the name to represent the 13 folds that form the triangle shape of an American flag that is folded at a soldier’s funeral. Corporal Bucklin’s son, Jacob, received the very first Folds of Honor scholarship. Four years later, the Folds of Honor Foundation has awarded 2,000 scholarships and raised $8.5 million for the dependents of America’s fallen and disabled soldiers.
Major Rooney didn’t stop there. As a PGA Professional and USGA member, Rooney became instrumental in the development of a new, world-class golf course appropriately named, The Patriot. Brought to life by world-renowned course designer Robert Trent Jones, The Patriot lies in the hills just north of Tulsa. In its short existence, The Patriot has already been ranked #48 on the Golfweek Magazine Modern Greatest 100 Course list. The course’s stunning views and terrain changes take players through canyons, woodlands, marshes and prairies. On the first tee, the skyline of Tulsa is on the horizon while a giant American flag flaps in foreground, reminding each player of The Patriot’s founding principles: God and country.
The Patriot golf club is home to the Folds of Honor foundation and on Memorial Day weekend, the course will play host to the second annual Patriot Cup. The event will feature a field of 44 military golfers and the top 30 will advance to Monday to play for the Patriot Cup. Each of those 30 remaining veterans will be paired with a PGA Tour player, Champions Tour player or a celebrity, and one two-man team will take home the Patriot Cup. Some of golf’s biggest names will participate including Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Bo Van Pelt, Corey Pavin, Rocco Mediate, Brad Faxon, Tom Lehman, Todd Hamilton, Jeff Sluman, Larry Mize, Craig Stadler, and Peter Jacobsen. The competition will be filmed by The Golf Channel and the footage will air as a special later in the year.
The Patriot Cup serves as a fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation. The public can purchase a limited number of tickets to attend Monday’s round at $50 each, with all kids 12 and under getting in for free. Tickets can be purchased through The Joint ticket office at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa.
Money raised will go to help someone like Natasha Mounsey. Natasha’s father, Erik Mounsey, was on his third tour of duty in Iraq when his helicopter was shot down killing him and everyone else on board. Now, thanks to the Folds of Honor, Natasha is attending Cal State Northridge and is pursuing her dream of becoming a computer animator.
Captain Christopher Cash Sr. was stationed in Baquba, Iraq with the North Carolina National Guard. On June 24th, 2004, Captain Cash was shot and killed during a firefight with enemy combatants. He left behind two teenage boys, Christopher Jr. and Matthew. Thanks to the Folds of Honor, both of Captain Cash’s sons will attend the college of their choice and continue his legacy.
If you would like more information on the Patriot Cup, or if you would like to donate to the Folds of Honor Foundation, please visit www.FoldsofHonor.org.
***Some information for this article provided by patriotgolfclub.com and Alday Communications.***