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Children participate in junior golf clinic on post

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Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 4:30 am

Faith West’s golf club was almost taller than her.

“What do I do? I just take the long stick and hit the little ball?” the 6-year-old asked her mom Friday during a junior golf clinic at the Courses of Clear Creek.

Faith was among more than 120 children who learned how to properly hold the club and hit golf balls during the clinic, which was part of a larger Ben Hogan Foundation event.

The Ben Hogan Classic came to Fort Hood for the first time as a show of thanks to soldiers and their families for their service and hosted about 180 soldiers for a free tournament.

The nonprofit was founded in 2006 to honor World War II veteran Ben Hogan, who started caddying and playing golf when he was 12. Hogan, who won 64 tournament victories and nine career professional major championships throughout his career began touring when he was 19. But he took a break from golf to serve his country.

“Whenever he was winning (six to nine) tournaments a year, he left the PGA tour to join the Army to serve his country in 1942,” said Robert Stennett, executive director of the foundation. “Mr. Hogan was very patriotic.”

This is the first time the foundation has hosted the Classic, but Stennett anticipates it becoming an annual event at military installations nationwide.

“Fort Hood’s a great place, so if you’re going to put on the biggest and best golf tournament in the world, you gotta (start it at the biggest Army installation),” he said. “We want to make this all about the soldier ... and give them a day off. We want them to have a fun day and feel appreciated and honored.”

Master Sgt. Michele Johnson, a soldier with 1st Medical Brigade, said it was “awesome” for the foundation to give soldiers the opportunity to visit the golf course and play golf for free.

“It says a lot about them that they support the troops,” she said.

Johnson started playing golf a few years ago and enjoys coming to the course with her buddies.

“If you (don’t have to) be at work, this is the best place to be, on the golf course,” she said. “Every time we get the opportunity to golf, we like to come. It’s a great day.”

Lindsey West, also was thankful that she was able to bring her daughter, Faith, to the free clinic.

Faith said she looks forward to spending the summer with her grandparents, who live near a golf course. Although she hit the dirt a couple of times, it was still “fun.”

“She’s loving it,” West said. “She surprised me because she’s been so excited about it.”

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