Two University of Stirling golf scholars are preparing to travel to America next week after being invited to play in the ‘one-of-a-kind’ Patriot All-America Invitational in Arizona (27 Dec – 31 Dec).
Having been crowned Scottish and European champions with the all-conquering Stirling squad earlier in the year, Laird Shepherd and Robert Foley will round off their 2017 competing against some of the best college golfers in the US in an event that honours American servicemen and women who have lost their lives or suffered life-changing injuries in the call of duty.
Hosted at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, the Patriot All-America Invitational brings together the leading collegiate players from every NCAA division, plus a small number of invitees, to commemorate members of the military who have died or been severely injured whilst serving. Throughout the 54-hole championship, each participant honours a fallen or severely injured soldier by carrying a bag bearing the name of that individual.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, Third-year Sports Studies student Shepherd said: “It’s a massive event in terms of paying respects to those in the military and having had experience of the British equivalent I know how much it means to those involved. And from a golf perspective, the chance to play against some of America’s top collegiate players is what you want to be doing and benchmarking yourself against the best in the world.”
Foley, who is in the second year of his Business Studies and Economics degree, added: “I’m just really excited. I’ve heard the conditions will be unreal for late December, so it’s going to be a great way to end the year and hopefully we can do something special for the University.”
Following a strong year of performances, the University of Stirling’s High Performance Golf Coach, Dean Robertson, feels the event offers an opportunity for the players to be part of something that goes beyond golf. He says: “The Patriot All-America Invitational is such a special event that is important for so much more than just the golf. We have taken athletes to other war memorials and sites in the past, as we feel it is important for them to understand and acknowledge the sacrifices other people make for the rest of us, and I know Laird and Robert are really looking forward to going over to Arizona for an amazing life and golfing experience.”
At the conclusion of the event, each specially designed golf bag will be auctioned with all proceeds designated for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving the United States.