During the last Golf Clubmakers’ Association International Conference, clubmaker Roy Tousley (see this month’s Clubmaker Profile) approached me with a proposal. Several Medal of Honor recipients are golfers and travel all over the world making appearances at different golf events. Roy proposed that Golfsmith partner with his shop, R&M Golfworks, to provide these true heroes with custom-crafted clubs, including personalized bags and travel covers.
According to the official description, the Medal of Honor is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes themselves “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.” It’s the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government, and it’s reserved for those who have performed extraordinary acts of valor.
Roy collected data from 26 recipients and, along with John Mathieson and Thomas Hull from Golfsmith R&D, began crafting the clubs. Simultaneously, Club Glove began handcrafting 26 staff bags, Last Bag travel covers and headcovers for all.
The headcovers had the Medal of Honor logo emblazoned on the top and the appropriate military branch stitched on the neck. The branch of the military in which the recipient served determined the color of his bag. Marines were presented with red bags with gold stitching, Army members with black bags with gold lettering, Navy members with blue bags with yellow stitching, and Air Force members with blue bags with silver lettering. Each panel on the bags was custom stitched, as well. The front of the bag had the Medal of Honor logo on the main, front ball pocket. The conflict in which the recipient served was also embroidered, as well as his years of service. Finally, every Medal of Honor recipient has a nickname that commemorates their medal-earning act of duty. This nickname was also stitched into each bag. Club Glove deserves a huge thank you for the level of professionalism and the attention to detail that went into every bag, travel cover and headcover that was presented. The entire process was absolutely amazing.
Each set of clubs included Snake Eyes Python XL woods, individually custom-fit Golfsmith G40 irons and Snake Eyes Quick Strike hybrids.
The custom sets were presented on February 8, 2008, in Simi Valley, Calif., during a Medal of Honor Society dinner, as part of the Celebration of Freedom Gala. The masters of ceremonies were NBC News anchor Brian Williams and Oscar®-nominated actor Gary Sinise, along with Dave McIntire, CEO of Tri-West Healthcare Alliance. Golfsmith officers Matt Corey, Gillian Felix and myself, Roy and Myrna Tousley, Dennis Kysterke, and Patsy Keen presented the recipients with their bags and clubs.
The custom sets actually went into play the following day during a golf tournament. Several honorees were overheard making comments like “I have to club down with these irons,” and “Wow, these clubs are amazing.” They were all curious about the SST PURE® process that each set’s shafts underwent. As we explained the process, they all realized that each set was custom crafted just for them.
We were pleased to hear that one of the recipients, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Bruce P. “Snake 6” Crandall, later used his clubs in a tournament, where he was the oldest player in the field. Lt. Col. Crandall (a single-digit handicap) and the others in his foursome won the tournament. He has commented several times that his new custom clubs are the nicest he has ever used, and that the entire group of Medal of Honor recipients is extremely grateful for the gifts.
In reality, we are the ones who owe them a big thanks. Everyone involved was truly humbled to provide these sets, and truly grateful for the recipients’ dedication and service to our country.