USO holds first Red, White and Blue golf tournament
October 26, 2012
SUNGNAM GOLF COURSE, South Korea - More than 170 golfers converged upon the Sungnam Golf Course Oct. 19 to take part in the United Service Organization's first Red, White and Blue Golf Tournament and Military Cup.
The event was held in order to bring servicemembers and businessmen together to play 18 holes and to raise money to support other USO programs and services.
In previous years, the USO-Korea has hosted two golf tournaments a year -- the Goodwill Golf Tournament and the Invitational Golf Tournament.
The challenge with hosting two events a year, however, came with getting enough participation to justify having two events a year.
"We decided it would be better to host one big event in the fall, and we've already seen that that was a good idea, because last time we were scrambling to get more players," said Tony Davis, the country director for USO-Korea. "This year we turned players away. We had too many players for this tournament."
Not only did the number of tournaments change, but the focus of the event also shifted.
"In the past we were really trying to court Korean and American business sponsors, which is still important, because this is a fundraising event. But with the Military Cup, the focus is back on the servicemembers, so I would say about a third of the players are servicemembers, who are playing for free," Davis said.
The Military Cup pits the four services against each other in a battle for bragging rights, so not only do the servicemembers get to represent their service and possibly win the trophy, but they also get to socialize, interact and play golf with Korean businessmen.
"This was a great way to get to know the businessmen from the area," said Sgt. Maj. Craig Pinkley, the CJ3 Operations sergeant major. "I definitely met people and talked to people I would have never met otherwise."
Many Korean, American and international businesses sponsored holes at the golf course for the tournament. In return for sponsoring a hole, the businesses were then allowed to bring two people from their companies along with two servicemembers to play with them for free. In fact, all the servicemembers at the event played for free.
"We also have a Military Cup sponsor, which is BAE International, that paid for all of the military teams to play, and that's how we're able to make the Military Cup happen," said Davis. "It's a way to recognize servicemembers, thank them for what they do and also to raise money for the USO, which allows us to do other things to lift the spirits of servicemembers and their families."
Following the tournament, the golfers and sponsors were treated to a banquet at which the winners of the Red, White and Blue Golf Tournament and the winners of the Military Cup were announced. But even those who didn't win the tournament still had a chance to win some door prizes ranging from a meal certificate at Tenkai restaurant to two airline tickets to Honolulu.
"This is the second USO golf tournament I've played in this year, and both times, it's been great to play side-by-side with our Korean hosts and sponsors," said 1st Sgt. Sean Parrish, the Armed Forces Network-Korea first sergeant. "I appreciate everything the USO does for servicemembers and all those sponsors that not only offered an incredible day of golf, but an incredible dinner and raffle prizes."
The winners of the Red, White and Blue Golf Tournament were Tim Trinka from Bae, Kim and Lee LLC; Korean Service Corps Sgt. 1st Class Michael Russell; Maj. James Lee, United States Forces Korea; and Mike Kim, MK and Associates. The team was sponsored by Poongsan Corporation.
The Army team, made up of Eighth Army Soldiers, won the Military Cup. The team members were Sgt. Maj. Craig Pinkley, Sgt. Maj. Jed Hawkland, Staff Sgt. Marty Mendez, and Maj. John Lopez. The Army team was sponsored by BAE Systems.
Events such as this golf tournament raise money to pay for many other USO-sponsored services and programs like the "burger burns" -- unit barbecues that the USO will host at no cost to the unit and the Demilitarized Zone tours that are offered to servicemembers at a substantial discount.