There’s plenty of PGA TOUR excitement this week with the FedExCup Playoffs beginning at the THE NORTHERN TRUST, held August 21-26 at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey.
But, perhaps no one is as enthusiastic as the nine Special Olympics athletes selected for an inside-the-ropes VIP experience during Wednesday’s pro-am at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
To celebrate the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary, United Airlines — which is a global partner of the Special Olympics — flew nine avid Special Olympic golfers to New Jersey, where they were then taken to their own personal locker room at The Ridgewood Country Club. After all, they had to change into golf attire so they could warm up on the driving range and putting green during a skills clinic before making their way to the 1st tee of the tournament to play three holes with a PGA TOUR pros Rafa Cabrera Bello, James Hahn, and J.J. Spaun.
And, there’s no question those pros made it a special experience.
“It’s meant a lot to be able to have a PGA TOUR pro like James and Rafa and JJ supporting us, and telling us to do our best,” Special Olympics athlete Garrett Stortz said after flying all the way from Alaska. “Encouragement is all the world to us, and we appreciate their time and all the advice they’ve given us out here, it’s been really fun.”
In fact, it meant the world to the PGA TOUR pros, too.
“It was a lot of fun and it really reminds us of why we are out here,” Hahn said. “We’re trying to grow the game, but we’re also role models for a lot of these guys, so to just give them the opportunity to play inside the ropes with us, a lot of these kids are happy for the opportunity as well, and it really brings a smile to our faces.”
Following the fun day, the athletes attended a reception in the United Airlines Fairway Club, where they continued to celebrate their out-of-this-world experience with family and friends.
“The Special Olympics is like the Big Cape and provides the ‘S’ on Peter’s chest,” Jill Condon said of her son, one of the athletes chosen to take part. “He’s pushed himself in ways he never would have without that safe space.”
How’s that for proof, all around, that some super heroes carry golf clubs?