The Florida Veteran’s Golf Fouundation is the “brain child” of Fred Bender. Although Fred admits, he came up with the idea a little later in life, than he would have rather wished. This idea actually was conceived after Fred atttended a reunion of Marines involved in the “Battle of Khe Sahn” in Savannah, Georgia. Fred, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, was in this battle in 1968. This battle endured for 77 days. It is known for one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
Fred, until this reunion, never attended any functions that reminded him of his military service. Fred’s way of dealing with his military life experience was to supress and avoid any thing that reminded him of that time. In 2013, Fred mustered the strength to attend a reunion of marines that were in the “Battle of Khe Sahn.” To his surprise, he immediately felt the warmth of 300 old family members. It was something that overwhelmed him and touched his heart. At this he point, he knew that he had to do something to get his brother and sister veterans at home to come together. He knew there were so many like Fred that never went to these types of reunions. They were missing that bond that they had from their military service. This bond is like no other. One would have had to endured and lived through what these men and women did to even understand.
When Fred got home, he knew he had to organize some type of gathering to include the veterans. Being a professional member of the PGA and loving the game of golf, the two were immediately joined. Fred founded the “Florida Veteran’s Golf Foundation. Fred’s belief that bringing veterans together to enjoy the game of golf and having others that know the committment and service that was made was just plain common sense. Fred said that he found members while playing, talking about their experiences and how it affected them. On the course, with their brothers and sisters, they knew that these subjects were well-related and even experienced among the group. There is an air of relaxation and commoradity, that only can be understood by the veterans.
Fred started by having his first outing on Veteran’s Day. As the group has grown to over 100 strong, Fred is working on having monthly outings and hopes to hold weekly outings. The group meets at area golf courses and play golf, then relax and have a nice meal together at the clubhouses. Since the outings are for U.S. Veterans, most courses are willing to provide discounts for the members. Fred says the Veterans greatly appreciate it and to show their support of that course, patronize the restaraunt after playing, as well as playing at other times.
Along with the golf outings, members receive a 50% discount to Pasedena Hills Driving Range. Pasedena Hills Driving Range is a private facillity, not open to the general public. Memberships are sold on a yearly basis. This membership provides unlimited use of the facility. Members can hone their putting skills in the “Putting Zone” or work on chipping, irons, or drives. Ball fees are reduced to $2.
Fred is optimistic and hopes to increase the Veterans organization to 1000 member strong. Fred is hoping to obtain funding by way of donations and grants to assist with maintenance and additional services for the veterans. Fred hopes that one day to acquire a small bus or large van to provide transportation of the veterans to the golf courses. He feels that having a vehicle, with the organization’s logo and name, would help promote this association.
Donations to the Florida Veteran’s Golf Foundation are tax deductible due to its 501(c3) status. If you know of anyone or a business that could help, aid, or assist in any way, Fred would love to hear from you. He can be reached by email or phone. Both contacts are located at the top of the website.