Most people will never forget where they were when terrorists struck the United States on September 11, 2001, but the founders of GOLF 9/12 know where they would like you to be on or about September 12 each year—your local golf course.
GOLF 9/12 is an annual event that was started at golf courses worldwide in 2011 to rekindle the spirit of unity that prevailed the day following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The nonprofit initiative encourages people to play golf at their local facilities during the week of September 12.
One of its co-founders, Johan Immelman, a past Southern Africa PGA Tour commissioner and the father of 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, was at Forest Hills Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on September 12, 2012 for its second annual GOLF 9/12 event.
“9/11 certainly is one of those big moments in our lives that we will never forget, and those that come after us will know about it,” Immelman says. “We started GOLF 9/12 last year as a history lesson, but it will also make us look forward.”
The Augusta tournament, along with another GOLF 9/12 event that was held September 10 at the Country Club of Columbus (Ga.), served as a pilot program to shift the focus of the event. While the nonprofit originally supported armed forces charities and 9/11 victim memorial funds, it now recognizes the valor of first responders.
Proceeds from the golf tournament fundraisers were donated to scholarship funds to help first responders, along with their spouses and children, attend colleges or technical schools in their communities. GOLF 9/12 also contributed $10,000 to each of the scholarship funds at Augusta State University and Columbus State University, where Immelman’s oldest son, Mark, is the head men’s golf coach.
“Our vision is to form as many partnerships as we can with universities, athletic departments and first responders,” says Immelman. “The scholarships are established locally, and the money stays in the communities.”
While 13 four-ball teams teed off at Forest Hills, 24 four-ball teams participated at the Country Club of Columbus.
Retired Brig. Gen. Jeff Foley, who serves as Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center Vice President of Military and Global Affairs, and Clint Bryant, Augusta State Director of Athletics, co-chaired the GOLF 9/12 event at Forest Hills.
“None of us will ever forget the terrorist attacks of 9/11 nor the day after, when American flags were proudly displayed on front doors, mailboxes and cars – when people lined up at blood centers to make donations – when we all came together as a united America, “ says Foley. “This annual tournament is to remind people not only of how connected we were then, but to encourage that sense of unity and connectivity.”
Bryant was overwhelmed by the support from GOLF 9/12.
“This is one way that we can show our appreciation and gratitude to our communities’ first responders who lay their lives on the line every day,” Bryant says.
Immelman believes golf is a natural way to restore the united spirit of 9/12.
“The game of golf represents the best of humanity – integrity, honesty, respect, courtesy, charity, sportsmanship, and the pursuit of excellence,” Immelman says. “These are values we hope GOLF 9/12 can count on for support.”