HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. – As Patriot Golf Day 2016 approaches this coming Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-5, Mike Mueller, head golf professional at The Club at 12 Oaks, is kick-starting the effort on Wednesday.
While one may think that only PGA Tour pros possess the endurance and desire to play golf non-stop and earn money in doing so, Mueller will do it by completing a 108-hole golf marathon in just less than 12 hours.
That’s right, on top of running different lesson programs, leagues and special events at 12 Oaks, Mueller, who is also the current Area IX director of the Carolinas section of the PGA of America (CPGA), will do his part by playing 108 holes from dusk ‘til dawn to raise funds for Folds of Honor.
Folds of Honor was established in 2007 by Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard and PGA club professional, to financially help the families of members of the military who were disabled or lost their lives while serving their country.
The organization’s mission is to “to honor their sacrifice, and educate their legacy,” through the awarding of scholarship funds.
It will be the fourth year that Mueller will be doing his part for the CPGA as part of this far-reaching effort that is supported by the PGA of America and United States Golf Association (USGA).
The golf marathon concept was one that Mueller thought would provide a larger impact to bring awareness to the cause.
“The first year we tried to do a bunch of things, and in Year 2 I decided to do something big, a one-day thing,” Mueller recounted.
“We’ve done it now two years, and every year we raise more money. We’re shooting for much, much more this year.”
With Rooney being a fellow PGA professional at the Patriot Golf Club in Owasso, Okla., and a military veteran, working with Folds of Honor truly is a grassroots initiative on the part of the PGA of America.
“It’s a very powerful story, a powerful message,” Mueller added.
In doing his part, Mueller will tee off from six sets of tees in succession – blue, gold, white, blue, red, blue – starting at 6:30 a.m., and finishing by 6:00 p.m.
A club member will serve as his caddie and course marshal/ranger to traverse the course by cart in order to keep the pace of play on time.
“He’ll tend the flag; if there’s a group in front of me, he’ll drive ahead to let them know that I’ll be coming through, so that I can keep moving,” Mueller said.
“It’s really hard to pace yourself. You really want to keep moving. Sitting down for lunch is the hardest thing I do because getting back up stinks.”
Many golfers can empathize, as it is tiresome enough in 90-plus degree weather to move after playing one full round of golf, let alone six.
Mueller has it pretty well planned out though.
After playing 54 straight holes, he’ll take a short break before playing another 18, and then eat lunch in order to fuel up and finish the final 36.
“I wanna finish at 6 p.m.” he said.
“I know it takes me about an hour and 25 minutes to play 18 holes, so I wanna start my fifth round at maybe 2:45 p.m. That way I can play a little bit slower over those last couple of rounds and not worry about it. We wanna finish on time.”
In addition to club members and supporters/donors watching and following along, Mueller has arranged to have the youngest junior players at the course who he’s been teaching all summer, 3-5-years in age, to play the final hole with him – chipping from just off the green – before he drops his final putt.
“Hopefully, they’re all gonna meet me and I’ll have 15 to 20 kids go up the 18th hole with me and make it fun for them.”
Also waiting for Mueller on the green will be the Wanamaker Trophy, the association’s symbol of competitive excellence as awarded at the PGA Championship tournament, which he’s arranged to be on site as part of the event.
“I think we’ll have a nice party that night to celebrate.”
Celebrate they will, particularly in hopes of raising more money than last year with the help of club members who’ve helped sponsor him per hole and a number of other ways he’s set up, including to have a picture taken with the Wanamaker silverware in the clubhouse in return for a donation.
In 2015, Mueller raised $4,700 as part of his and the club’s contribution towards the CPGA’s nation-leading number of participating PGA facilities that hosted events and initiatives for Patriot Golf Day.
Last year, amongst the 146 officially documented facilities throughout North and South Carolina that participated, over $649,000 was raised for Folds of Honor – up by over $115,000 from the association’s 2014 contribution.
To date, the Carolinas Section has raised more than $3,000,000 for the Foundation.
Impressive numbers indeed, all while keeping the main focus of it all in clear view to help add to the 7,500 educational scholarships that Folds of Honor has provided funding for.
“It makes you realize, we have to do something – no matter how big or how small, we have to do something.,” Mueller concluded.
“If someone were to say, ‘I’ll donate 10 cents a hole’, that’s something. That’s fantastic.”