(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by MC1 Cynthia Clark
Defense Media Activity, Hawaii News Bureau
A group of service members had the opportunity to caddy for members of the Professional Golfers’ Association at the Pro-Am event Jan. 8 prior to the Sony Open in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club.
As part of the Birdies for the Brave program, military volunteers from various commands around Hawaii were able to caddy for a pro on the 18th hole during the Pro-Am event.
“Here I am, carrying bags for the best golfers in the world,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Sharadan Reetz, who had the opportunity to caddy for Vijay Singh and Zach Johnson. “As we walked the 18th hole, Mr. Singh gave me some tips about golf and life in general. He is a great guy, shared a lot of wisdom and wished me luck in the future.”
As he caddied for Zach Johnson, he was able to reminisce about home as they are both from Iowa. Spending time together on the 18th hole was “awesome” for Reetz. It was also special for the professional golfer to talk about home and to thank him for his service.
“It was great,” said Johnson. “He’s from my home state, so we had a lot to catch up on. It was nice to meet a young man who’s served our country for five years – It puts things into perspective.”
Another Marine who had the privilege of caddying for the professional golfers was extremely grateful for the program, especially since he was paired with Adam Scott, who was the most recent winner of a green jacket in the Masters.
“It was unreal,” said Sgt. Tony Reese, a member of Headquarters Battalion at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “He gets to put on that green jacket. It’s something that I want to do. I know I’ll probably never get the chance to do, but just to be able to talk to him, caddie for him, it’s just unreal. It’s an amazing feeling.”
While all volunteers agreed that meeting the pros and being able to caddy for them was a great and surreal experience, they also were grateful to the Birdies for the Brave program, which granted them this opportunity.
“I’ve been golfing since I was five, so just to be out here and actually do this means a whole lot,” Reese said. “It’s an awesome feeling that there are programs out there like this that do this for service members. It’s fantastic.”