Warrant Officer Shawn Middlebrook fondly remembers being introduced to the game of golf.
His father gave him his first set of clubs — a Ben Hogan brand — and from then on, a lifetime of drives, slices and hooks followed.
“They were old Ben Hogan blades,” Middlebrook recalled. “I just played with them.”
The 30-year-old will now have his name engraved on a trophy with Hogan’s after he, Craig Hart, Rusty Lippert and Jake Morton made up the team that took the title Friday at the Ben Hogan Classic.
The four-person team scramble format tournament was held on a cloudy day at the Courses of Clear Creek.
Two hundred soldiers, family members, retirees and Defense Department civilians registered for the event, which was free and hosted by the Ben Hogan Foundation.
Morton said the event gave him a chance to blow off some steam and meet new people on his home course.
“It’s awesome to see groups like this putting on events for us,” Morton said. “They want to support us. and we want to support them. It’s a wonderful event.”
The Ben Hogan Foundation was founded in 1996 as a way to preserve the legacy of the golf legend that reflects his core values of self-determination, courage, competition, integrity and hard work.
Hogan began playing in the PGA Tour at the age of 19 and was the tour’s money leader in 1940, 1941 and 1942. He joined the Army and served in World War II and after the war, won his first PGA title in 1946.
Although Hogan is known for being a legend of the game, the fact that the Texas native served his country was not lost on the members of the group.
“If there’s a guy to know in the history of golf, he’s right there in the top couple,” Morton said.
PepsiCo sponsored the event this year.
PepsiCo veterans group chairperson Brett Lucas said supporting soldiers and veterans has always been important for the company.
“Everybody wins,” Lucas said. “The most important thing is to say thank you to the soldiers for what they do.”
PepsiCo currently employs 12,000 veterans, he said.