Pro Football legends, Jerry Rice, a 1 handicap golfer, wide receiver, and three-time Super Bowl champion, and Chris Doleman, a 3 handicap golfer and 15 year defensive lineman, will join 25 U.S. wounded veterans on a unique golf tour to Ireland this coming September, playing some of the greatest links courses in Ireland, if not the world!
The trip, organized by Golf Digest Irish Tours, includes veterans chosen by three charities; Salute Military Golf Association, Folds of Honor, and Warriors for Freedom, who work with veterans seriously injured in tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rice and Doleman, both honored in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, are generously giving their time to support the wounded veterans, and to help build awareness of the veterans’ charities and the incredible work they do, Linton Walsh, CEO of Golf Digest Irish Tours, said.
“We are very thankful to Jerry and Chris for being part of this special trip, and, once again, it will be a great pleasure for the people of Ireland to welcome the veterans to our shores, and to our most spectacular golf courses.”
The first wounded warriors golf tour to Ireland took place in 2012, when Golf Digest Irish Tours and the Irish golf industry hosted eleven veterans and their partners on a twelve day, all expenses paid, golf tour around the island of Ireland. Such was the therapeutic value of that trip for the injured veterans, that Golf Digest Irish Tours decided to start fund raising for another trip for seriously injured veterans.
Donors are being asked to pay $9,900 to the program, come on the trip, and play golf with the veterans and their Pro Football guests. Included in the donation are flights, accommodation, transport, meals, and all golf and caddies.
A new fundraising initiative this year is a raffle organized by the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) and Chris Doleman’s Charity Splits company. $10 tickets are for sale on www.freedomtourireland.com and one lucky raffle winner will be going on the trip of a lifetime with NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Chris Doleman, for just $10.
“I totally believe in the mission of the SMGA, using golf to improve disabled veterans’ recovery and enhance quality of life for them and their families” said Chris Doleman, whose outstanding NFL career saw him play for the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, from 1985 to 1999.
Adds Jerry Rice: “We must never forget the sacrifices made by our veterans, and we should always be proud of their inspirational achievements. We’re very excited and honored to be helping these heroes in any way we can, and I would encourage people to buy a raffle ticket and maybe join us in Ireland next fall for some amazing golf.”
The Golf Tour of a Lifetime
The veterans will arrive into South West Ireland, staying in Killarney, County Kerry, initially, and testing their links golf skills at Dooks Golf Club, learning how to play under the wind. Next, Tom Fazio’s Waterville Links, beside the beautiful Ring of Kerry, provides a master-class in sand dunes, native grasses, firm fairways, sod faced bunkers, and subtle putting surfaces!
Tralee’s stunning golf course, built and designed by Arnold Palmer, is the next challenge. The world-renowned golfer claimed he had some outside help in the course design, saying: “I may have designed the first nine, but surely God designed the back nine!”
The stunning Old Head of Kinsale course in County Cork is laid out on one of the most dramatic landscapes in Ireland, on a narrow peninsula almost completely surrounded by water, where the views are always amazing, even if the play isn’t too hot!
Ballybunion golf course, again on a beautiful stretch of coast, is another unyielding test of skill and endurance, with large dunes and ruthless bunkering to challenge ambitious golfers. Their final golf test will see the veterans play Lahinch, an Old Tom Morris design, and one he believed was the finest natural links course he had ever seen.
From Killarney, the veterans’ next stay is in the splendid surroundings of Dromoland Castle in County Clare. Originally the ancestral home of descendants of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, today Dromoland is the home of five star luxury, where the veterans will enjoy a gala banquet at the close of their unique trip.
The Freedom Golf Tour of Ireland will take place September 13-20, 2014. $10 raffle tickets can be purchased on www.freedomtourireland.com