Bryan Brotchie, PGA, second from right.
Golf has long been a passion of mine. From an early age, my parents would watch me chip golf balls in the back yard, front yard, and over the house. It wasn’t until well after the start of golf as a career that I realized how much I could impact the lives of our military veterans through the sport. I didn’t have a great deal of knowledge regarding the Special Operations Warrior Foundation until after my dad retired and joined the board of directors. Of course, I had been around his active-duty life as well as the bases he had been stationed at around the country, also regularly visiting with the likes of former SOWF leaders Coach Carney and Steve McLeary. Military life was a common topic of discussion considering my parents and stepparents had a combined 70 years of military service across three different military branches.
Once established as Golf Pro and holding the Head Professional position at Geneva National Resort in Lake Geneva, WI, this was where opportunity met passion. I was truly introduced to SOWF at a small fundraiser called: the Whomper Stomper, which was put on by Will “CM” Markham and his family. Through the connections with Geneva National, we made the second tournament even bigger, more than doubling the total donation. After CM deployed out of the country, we began a small fundraiser of our own at Geneva National that grew tremendously, and in five years, we raised $500,000. Over time, it became a weekend of events, as we connected the Swim for Freedom at Gordy’s Boat House with the Geneva National tournament, aligning both activities to complement each other. Year after year, the entire weekend grew in stature, and we annually featured a different SOWF family member to speak – it was moving to hear individuals share their life-changing educational experiences. Though I have relocated to Texas, it is awesome to know that the SOWF weekend of events is still thriving in Lake Geneva.
Currently serving as Head Professional at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, TX, I have embraced this fresh opportunity. The club is a ClubCorp property (by invitation) and its CEO, David Pilsbury, is committed to supporting military veterans. I happily use my voice to help our Operation 43 Members and represent Puma Golf’s Staff to support an effort that gives a percentage of their Volition clothing to military veteran charities. While participating, I have proudly displayed my SOWF gear, including shirts and hats, and added SOWF branding to my golf bags, backpacks, and vehicle license plate.
I was honored to be asked to join our Northern Texas PGA Hope Committee and beginning in September we will be hosting our own PGA HOPE program for up to 15 military veterans. Topping this all off is a day of recognition, RED Shirt Friday, with golf members and staff proudly focusing on all who are deployed!
Being named a SOWF Ambassador was an incredible honor, and I have been humbled by the ongoing needs out there. It has also been great to connect with fellow Ambassadors in the DFW area and I enthusiastically look ahead to both the September 24, 2022, Join Forces: Texas fundraising dinner in Dallas and May 23, 2023, Red Zone Golf Outing in McKinney, Texas.
Through the NTPGA, I was fortunate to chaperone a group that played in the Pro-Am at Colonial Country Club with PGA Tour players Kevin Streelman and Adam Schenk (see picture). We are now hoping to tie in SOWF with a few of our member event fundraisers such as our Flag Tournaments and Veterans Day events. Having met more and more SOWF families and hearing their words, I am thankful to share their heartfelt stories, while assisting Veterans through the game of golf. The entire experience is truly inspiring!