Jul
1
2011
A Morning to Remember With Feherty and Soldiers (Oh Yeah, and Tiger Woods)
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

On the tee with Tiger

When my friend Jeff called and asked if I was available on Tuesday morning to take part in David Feherty’s IED of Golf, which is put on by Feherty’s foundation, Troops First, in conjunction with Jeff’s, No Greater Sacrifice, I said yes without hesitation. Jeff added there was one catch — you have to stay radio silent about the event until afterward and you can’t disclose the location.

Sure, no problem.

In short, the morning involved a breakfast, some opening remarks by David Feherty, a short game clinic with Feherty, ’07 and 09 Walker Cup captain Buddy Marucci and amateur-legend-turned-Champions-Tour former player Jay Sigel, followed by a 9-hole scramble with the servicemen.

Sounds like fun!

And then Tiger Woods is going to stop by and hang out with every group for a bit, but it’s a surprise — the soldiers don’t know.

Cool. I bet Tiger will be thrilled when he finds out there’s some blogger there!

I wish I had recorded Feherty’s opening speech, but as you can imagine, it was filled with plenty of the usual off-color Feherty jokes (that only he could get away with). He said something like the nine-hole scramble would be a contest of who could cheat the best and “if you have extra limbs, feel free to use those, too.” In other words, just have a great time.

First, let’s show a highlight from the short-game clinic at Applebrook GC (about ten minutes away from Aronimink GC) — my favorite was Feherty demonstrating the few ways you can shank a chip.

Then we headed to the range to warm up. There were two men who had each lost a leg during combat less than two months ago — Mother’s Day, to be exact. I was most inspired by their enthusiastic spirits and it was pretty impressive to watch them hit balls.

I apologize for the poor sound quality, but Feherty asked him when he lost his leg and he said the same day as the other guy. “So you guys are like twins,” quipped Feherty.

I can’t disclose the names of the soldiers because there are security issues with the special forces guys, but I played with a lieutenant colonel, a captain and I rode in a cart with Philly, who was quite the character and shared several combat stories with me. All three had their limbs and have served in Afghanistan. The guys wearing black shirts were sponsors of the event and they served as our caddies. The soldiers (with the exception of one of the guys in my group) sported red and the “A” players wore whatever we felt like.

Here’s the abbreviated version of a story Philly told me. Philly works on helicopter-related missions, and on Memorial Day in 2009 his unit was ordered to a mission during the day time, which was weird because these things usually go down at night. So they dropped off the soldiers who were going after the Taliban guys. On their way back to the base, they got a call to turn around and pick them up because they had to Medivac an injured soldier.

What happened was a member of the Taliban threw a grenade at the aforementioned soldier, who picked it up to toss it back, but before he could let it go, it exploded in his hand, blowing his arm off. (Sorry, I’m not sure there’s a tactful way to describe that.)

Philly said he actually saw the soldier recently and found out he had received the Medal of Honor.

Moving on! I’m sure you’re all wondering about what Tiger was like, right? Well, first of all, he didn’t have to be there. Since he showed up last year, the organizers didn’t want to bother him again. In fact, Tiger actually had his people call to ask if he could attend. I bet the organizers were like, “Hmm, we’ll have to check if that’s okay and get back to you. Just kidding. Of course Tiger can stop by!”

When Tiger arrived on the premises, it was pretty obvious because he was followed by a caravan of golf carts filled with members of Team Tiger. He spent some time on the par-3 No. 5 with us. He shook hands and met the soldiers in my group and then posed for a photo. Then the rest of us joined for another one. Feherty took this picture with my camera:

I’m not sure why the other half of the group was cropped out. Feherty, stick to your day job!

Meanwhile, I had been trying to stay out of the way and let the soldiers have their time with Tiger since we were there to honor them. I crossed paths with Tiger strolling across the tee box after the pictures. He stopped, extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Tiger.”

We were supposed to hit from the back tees, but apparently the soldiers chose to move forward on the fifth hole. That wasn’t lost on Tiger or David who pointed out that we were cheating (as directed, the soldiers thought!). In retrospect, I should have played from the most forward tees instead of the same tees all day. It would have helped our team since driver is the only club I can hit. Which is why I was disappointed Tiger showed up on a par 3 instead of a par 4 or 5!

I have to commend Tiger on making small talk with me. He’s good at these events. I was standing next to him on the tee, waiting for my turn, and he asked to see the club I was holding. “Hmm, a six-iron. Do you play a lot of golf?” he asked.

I replied, “I used to, not so much anymore…” Feherty interjected, “She writes about it now.”

I was trying to play it cool, but I was definitely nervous when I stepped up to the tee. I made a terrible swing. As you can see from the video, Tiger was standing right behind us watching!

Yeah, I pushed it about 20 yards to the right. Tiger tried to be nice, saying something like, “Safe place to miss…”

Can I have a mulligan?? Or can you stay ’til we tee off on the next hole?

I’m not positive what our group shot in the scramble, but I want to say we were five-under. There wasn’t a lot of cheating involved, either! The soldiers were pretty good players and we had a local club professional to help out, too!

Thanks to Jeff, Feherty, the soldiers, caddies (sponsors), event organizers, Alex the Intern, NGS and Troops First (and Tiger) for the invite and great company. It was an honor to spend the day with you all.