FORT HOOD — For Cathy Bell, Friday afternoon was her first time on the green.

“I always wanted to learn how to play golf, but never got a chance until (friend) Gina told me about today’s tournament. We were already off for the day so why not?” she said.

Bell, a government contractor employed at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, was one of 200 active duty soldiers and other government employees who made their way to the Clear Creek Golf Course for the seventh annual Ben Hogan Classic.

The yearly spring event recognizes soldiers at Fort Hood for their active duty military service and is the only event, besides the official PGA event, that is an official Ben Hogan event.

It was organized the Ben Hogan Foundation, the Miles Foundation and the Air Power Foundation.

Hogan is known to golf aficionados and professionals worldwide; some even calling him the king of the sport.

During his golfing career, Hogan won 64 PGA tour events — surpassed only by Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Sam Snead.

The golfer’s connection to the military is reflected by one his foundation’s initiatives: the support of those who serve in the military.

In 1942, Hogan left the PGA tour to join the Army Air Corps. He would serve until 1948, including a combat tour during World War II.

Hogan passed away in 1997 at Fort Worth.

Chip Graham, the foundation’s executive director, said Hogan was fond of the military and very fond of our troops.

“It was only right to hold an event like this … to thank our soldiers for their service, give the soldiers one day to take off and relax with a game of golf,” Graham said.

The participants do not pay a dime nor do the 60 volunteers from around the country who come to support the one day event. Graham said the foundation foots the bill.

“We just want to thank them for the 364 days a year that they serve with one day of appreciation,” said Robert Stennett, the foundation’s CEO.

Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, gave a moving speech to kick off the event.

“These great people have come down here to the finest military installation in the world … it has everything to do with the heart and soul because the Army is a people business. What matters is your commitment to each other and the great value as far as our great nation,” Funk said to the audience.

The 18-hole game is just one of the ways the foundation gives back to Fort Hood troops. Along with the Fort Worth First Tee organization, the foundation is also hosting a free youth clinic today. The event is open to all Department of Defense ID cardholders youth ages 7 to 17.

For more information, visit benhoganfoundation.org.

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