Golf and the military go together. Most of our Commanders-in-Chief played the game, one former President, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, had a tree named for him at Augusta National, and one former general even designed a couple of pretty good golf courses (Bayonet/Black Horse in Seaside, Calif.), though it occurred sort of by accident since he was a left-handed golfer who drew up holes to accommodate his slice.
Of course, golf shouldn't just be reserved for high-ranking officers, and it certainly isn't on America's golf courses, which on Veterans Day and many other days for that matter, give those who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces a break or even a free green fee on Veterans Day, which comes every Nov. 11.
Veterans Day, in case you need a primer, is one of two major holidays that honor those who have served in the military. In May Memorial Day honors military personal who have made the ultimate sacrifice in battle. Veterans Day honors everyone who has served or is currently serving in the armed forces, whether they ever in battle or not. That accounts for 20.2 million living veterans (1.6 million are women, by the way), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So the chances are pretty good, you know a veteran or two or three or four. You probably play golf with them or you are a veteran yourself.
And if you're a veteran reading this, you're also in luck, because more and more golf facilities have special promotions on your day to make it a little easier on your pocket book.
But if you're not a veteran, take one or two vets to play golf and make it about them.
Here's a few other things you can do to honor those who protect our country:
A heartfelt thanks
Just thank them. Seriously, it means so much, and we don't say it often enough. No need to get mushy about it, but let them know how much you appreciate their service and sacrifice. I often hear everyday folks doing this on flights where military personnel are dressed in their uniforms. Trust me: Though they might be humble, they never get tired of hearing it.
Buy them a drink after the round
And listen to their war stories -- literally and figuratively. This is an easy one, like buying your buddy a drink on his or her birthday. These war stories, by the way, don't have to be about actual war; maybe it's about something else that happened to them while they were serving on even a personal story. In any case, buy 'em a beer and be a good listener, even if he or she wants to go over every shot in the round just played.
Give them an extra stroke (or take one less)
Hey it's the least we can do for those who have volunteered to protect our freedom. If you're feeling really generous, give more, or take less, although I suspect many veterans will pass on that stroke. If that's the case, offer a Mulligan or two. Even if they don't take it, it's the gesture that counts.
Tour Veteran: Ed Dougherty's story
Pick up their green fee
Here's where it can get real easy on you. Why? Because a lot of golf courses are offering free green fees to veterans, or at least discounts. So plan something at one of those courses. Below are some examples, though they represent just a very small percentage of the courses offering veterans a little recreation and relaxation on their day. Check around. In every market, you'll find golf facilities offering special promotions.
• McCullough's Emerald Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. is offering free golf for all military veterans on Veterans Day. All they have to do is show their military I.D. to play this European links-inspired course gratis.
• At Ocala National in Ocala, Fla., veterans can get 20 percent off for any rounds booked on Veterans Day.
• At Prescott Golf & Country Club in Dewey, Ariz., veterans can play for $20 (about $15 off the normal weekday rate) from Veterans Day right on through the weekend.
• The Country Club of the Crystal Coast in Pine Knoll Shores, N.C. is offering all veterans a rate of $25 for golf on Veterans Days, which is a $20 discount from the normal November rates. The rate includes cart, a free hot dog and a "special gift."
• The Golf Club at Pleasant Point on Lady's Island, S.C. is offering age-based discounts to veterans on Veterans Day. Those under $40 can play for $18, including cart. Vets 40 to 60 pay $12; 60-80, it's $10; and over age 80, just $8.
• Veterans can play 18 holes on the West Course at Raisin River Golf Club in Monroe, Mich. for just $11, and that includes the cart.
• Chesapeake Bay Golf Club in North East, Md. is offering $20 green fees (includes cart and there's a $5 lunch deal) to veterans on Veterans Day on either of its two courses: North East or Rising Sun.
• The city of Sacramento, Calif. is offering veterans discounts throughout its municipal golf system, including the renown Haggin Oaks Golf Complex. For example, veterans can play Haggin Oaks' Alister MacKenzie Course for just $29.99, including cart.
• Sanctuary Golf Club at Cat Island in Beaufort, S.C. is offering free golf to veterans.
• If you bring a veteran to play golf at Heartland Crossing Golf Links in Camby, Ind., you and the vet each get a $5 discount on your green fee.
• Schaumburg Golf Club in Schaumburg, Ill. is offering 18 holes with cart for $26 for active, veteran and retired military personnel on Veterans Day.
• Heritage Golf Group in Hilton Head Island, S.C. has a special for veterans running all week. Active military and spouses can play any of Heritage Golf's golf courses -- which include Shipyard, Palmetto Hall Plantation (Cupp Course and Hills Course), Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club and Oyster Reef -- for free, while all other veterans and spouses can play for $29. In addition, Heritage Golf is offering other Veterans Day specials as well, including 50 percent off for active military on food and beverage (25 percent for inactive veterans).
• Another option is to buy them a round of golf on one of the thousands of courses available at GolfNow.com. It's easier than ever with the GolfNow Gift Cards.
Will you be doing anything special to honor the vet or vets in your foursome? Let us know in the comments below.