AER provides tee time for those in need
April 26, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 26, 2012) -- Hundreds gathered at Silver Wings Golf Course April 20 for a chance to get away from work and play golf for a good cause.
The 22nd annual Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union Golf Tournament to benefit Fort Rucker's Army Emergency Relief campaign kicked off as golfers sped off in their golf carts to play for prizes and a chance to win a brand new car with a hole in one.
Col. James A. Muskopf, Fort Rucker garrison commander and AER campaign chairman, was among those participating in the tournament and expressed his gratitude to AACFCU for hosting the tournament and the people that were participating, but reminded them that although they were there to play golf and have a good time, the focus of the tournament was to benefit the AER campaign.
"The AER campaign is all about supporting Soldiers that are in need," said Muskopf. "The campaign this year goes on as it does every year to make sure that we can help Soldiers when we need to -- not only here locally, but around the whole country.
"This [golf tournament] is an important part of that campaign and all the money raised here will go back into the AER fund-raising campaign for this year," he said, adding that the tournament and the money that it raises wouldn't be possible without its participants.
Last year's tournament raised $15,000 for AER, which provided $307,600 in assistance to 235 Soldiers, retirees, Family members and survivors, according to Lisa Hales, vice president of marketing for AACFCU.
"[The tournament] is just [AACFCU's] way of giving back to the Soldiers of Fort Rucker," she said. "A lot of our membership is military, so it's important for us to give back to those men and women who serve us."
This year's tournament had about 50 more participants than last year's, said David Unsicker, SWGC business manager, adding that he hopes this is a sign that golf is back and showing growth.
Whether or not it will be showing growth in the coming months, many people were happy to come play the game for a good cause.
"It makes me feel good to know that I'm doing something to give back to the military since they do so much for us," said Kent Staudmyer, civilian participant. "It's a good cause and AER does a lot of good work, and I feel good knowing that I'm doing something to help them out."
Danny Cowden, retired Soldier, spoke of how it's up to the older generation to try and help out the younger Soldiers that are going through troubled times in their lives.
"It helps a lot of the younger Soldiers, primarily," he said, "and guys my age have to make it happen. I've been [at Fort Rucker] since 2004 and just retired last summer, and the Army has given me a lot, so I try to stay in touch with the Army and this is just one of the ways I was able to do that."
Another benefit of the tournament is not only the money that it raises for the AER campaign, but the recognition that it can bring to those who were unaware what AER is, said Taylor Cowden, military Family member.
"I didn't know about [AER] before I came out [to the tournament]," he said. "It's good recognition to get other people to know about [AER] and get its name out there -- its just good awareness."
The game that the golfers played during the tournament was captain's choice, or four-person scramble, according to Unsicker.
Each person on a team hit a tee shot and selected the best tee shot of the four, he explained. From the best tee shot is where the team hit the next shot from and that process continued until the ball was on the green, adding that they had to play from whatever hazard their best shot landed in.
"If they are in the rough, everybody needs to play from the rough, and if they are in a sand trap, everybody needs to play from the sand trap," said Unsicker.
The players were allowed to move the ball one club length, side-to-side -- no closer to the hole -- while on the course, and one putter-head length, side-to-side -- no closer to the hole -- while on the green, he said.
The golfers had the chance to play for prizes for closest to the pin, longest drive and a hole in one, which the prize was a golfer's choice of a 2012 Nissan Altima or 2012 Jeep Wrangler, said the SWGC manager.
"I have a 17-year-old son and if I got the hole-in-one prize, it would have been a nice gift to him," said Staudmyer.
No one was lucky enough to take home the hole-in-one prize, but Unsicker feels that the turnout for the tournament was "exceptional."
"Anytime you can get people together for a cause like the AER campaign, it's a wonderful thing," he said. "We here at SWGC are just honored to be able to host this event and hopefully make a difference in someone's life."