1st Annual Robert Irvine Foundation Charity Golf Tournament

SAN ANTONIO, TX—The Hill Country Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency is typically a place for vacationing dads to cut loose for a few hours while their wives and kids ride bikes around the resort grounds or float down its lazy river. But for one day this August, it was a haven for dozens of wounded warriors and their sponsors thanks to the Robert Irvine Foundation.

On a typical sun-drenched Saturday morning, 100 golfers—36 of whom were wounded veterans—played in the foundation’s first annual charity golf outing. The day included breakfast, an 18-hole scramble (wherein each foursome only uses the best ball after each shot), a barbecue lunch served up by Irvine and his culinary team, and a charity auction featuring sports memorabilia, event tickets, and more.

All told, the event raised over $100,000 through sponsorships, ticketing, the auction, and in-kind donations.

Jen Lee, a retired 10-year Army veteran and amputee who won the closest-to-the-pin challenge, typified the response of servicemen who took part in the festivities. While loading a plate with Irvine’s brisket and pulled pork from the buffet line at lunch, Lee said the day had been a tremendous amount of fun, adding, “I’m grateful to Robert and all these guys for their help—and their patriotism.” The flawless execution of such an elaborate, multi-phased event—spread over the course of nearly eight hours—was a pleasant surprise to many attendees and sponsors.

“For a fifth- or sixth-year tournament, this is really great,” said Winston Wilkinson, Executive Vice President of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, one of the event’s marquee partners. In addition to sponsorship, PFCU also paid for 20 wounded warriors to play in the tournament.

“The fact that this is a first-year tournament is incredible. Pen-Fed Foundation, which is run by John Nicholson, has a long history of supporting the military since 1932. It’s great being a part of an event like this because Robert’s passion is so genuine.”

John Fissette, COO of A Veteran’s Valet—a hospitality company based in Dallas—took home a new driver after easily winning the long drive competition. It’s a much longer drive (over four hours) to make it to the tournament by car from Dallas, but Fissette said there were no other considerations than supporting the wounded warriors. “It was a humbling privilege to play with these men,” he said.

At the end of a day that had been a year in the making, Robert Irvine Foundation Executive Director Dave Reid said he was thrilled with the fact that—not only had the event gone off without a hitch—the three dozen veterans who played had a great time.

“The money we raised is going straight to help train service dogs and fund a dozen other projects that will have a direct and meaningful impact in the lives of our nation’s defenders. So obviously, the day has been a huge success on that level,” Reid said. “But on a more personal level, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to give these veterans a taste of what they fought for overseas: A day on a pristine golf course. A meal cooked by a world-class chef. A day where they get to feel like the kings they are.

Nothing could ever be enough for these guys, but it means something.”

Irvine echoed the sentiment. “After risking their lives, spilling their blood, losing their limbs—and their friends—well, you tell me what’s good enough for them,” Irvine said. “There’s nothing we can give that can equate to that sacrifice. So what do you? My answer is: You have as many days like today as you can. You raise as much money as you can and you use it to lift up the veterans in the most dire circumstances.
“But most importantly, you never stop saying thank you. And you never, ever forget.”