Professional golfer Tiger Woods understands the sacrifices military families make and the importance of acknowledging those sacrifices.
“I was raised in a military family,” said Woods, whose late father, Earl, retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel. “I know what it takes, the dedication it takes. They don’t get enough thanks. And we’re here to do that. We’re here to say thank you.”
He will say “thank you,” on the Fourth of July holiday when he hosts the second AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD.
Woods added, “We’re trying to do whatever we can to showcase the military and basically give thanks.”
This year that includes making 30,000 tickets available to service-members. Active-duty troops, reservists and National Guardsmen, retired service-members, and Defense Department civilian personnel are eligible for two tickets per person per day of the July 2-July 6 tournament.
The tournament also is offering a one-time 10 percent discount on merchandise, though the discount does not apply at the Congressional Golf Shop adjacent to the clubhouse, however. In addition, each day will be dedicated to one of the five services.
Honoring the military and their families doesn’t stop there, Woods said.
Twenty-five military children will accompany Woods to the first tee July 2, where two of them will take ceremonial first shots. But not before service-members deployed overseas have taken their swings.
Nike has provided drivers and golf balls that are being shipped to six military locations around the globe. A service-member at each location will hit the ball, which will then be returned along with video of those shots.
Woods, who has a great respect for the military, said his father, and the military values he adhered to, have greatly shaped both his view of family and his direction in life. He’s taken that to heart at home as well as on a global scale, hoping to be the same kind of father for his daughter, Samantha, that Earl Woods was to him.
“Family comes first,” Woods said. “My dad always made time for me. I’m looking back upon that, [and] that shaped me in the fact that I want to be there for Sam all the time,” he said.
His dad also taught him about success, being a leader, and the responsibilities that come with that role. That lesson was the foundation upon which he and his father created the Tiger Woods Foundation in 1996.
“My dad, I won’t say pushed me, but he always made sure I understood what it took to be a leader, the responsibilities you have to accept — and sometimes it’s not always easy,” Woods said. “That’s hard for kids to understand who have never experienced it before.”
This lack of leadership and role models for children is not just a local phenomenon, he said. It’s global.
“We have so many people around this world who need help, and we’re going to do that,” he said.
The foundation already has helped 10 million children through its character-development programs, scholarships, grants, junior golf teams, and the Tiger Woods Learning Center. And the gratitude he receives from the kids who are helped by the foundation is his greatest reward, he said.
“Golf is just what I do. It’s not who I am,” Woods said. “Having kids write letters and say, ‘Thank you. I’m going to college. I’m doing things that I never thought I could do in my life,’ gives me chills just thinking about it. That’s the impact that everyone should have in life.”
Proceeds from the 2008 AT&T National will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation and its desire to expand its programs to the greater Washington area. The hope is to continue positively impacting the lives of future generations for years to come, according to a statement on the AT&T National site.
Fans can affect lives, as well. When purchasing a ticket on the AT&T National Web site, they can choose to make a donation to one of six charitable organizations benefiting military families.
Proceeds from the “Click and Donate Program” will be equally distributed among the Fisher House Foundation, Military Officers of America’s Scholarship Fund, National Military Family Association, Our Military Kids, United Service Organizations of Metropolitan Washington, and Yellow Ribbon Fund.
All six organizations are supporters of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with service-members and their families serving at home and abroad. The title sponsor of the tournament, AT&T, is a corporate supporter of the Defense Department program, as well.