Golf tourney to aid wounded vets selling out fast

Golf tourney to aid wounded vets selling out fast
Operation Game On founder Tony Perez, center, poses with Marine Corps Cpl. Marcus Chischilly and his wife, Antania, at the 2014 golf tournament. File photo by Bianca Kaplanek

RANCHO SANTA FE — Anyone interested in golfing while also helping U.S. military members wounded in action should sign up for the eighth annual Operation Game On Golf Classic, which will be held Aug. 10 at Morgan Run Club & Resort.

Only a few spots remain for the event, a fundraiser to help combat-injured troops regain an active lifestyle through golf.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. and will be followed by driving and putting practice, the presentation of colors at 10:15 a.m. and a shotgun start at 11:30 a.m.

Operation Game On was created in 2008 by Rancho Santa Fe resident Tony Perez to give returning combat-injured troops suffering from physical and mental disabilities a custom introduction-to-golf package.

Participating troops, who are undergoing treatment at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, receive golf lessons from PGA-certified instructors and a professional fitting session by the staff at The Kingdom at TaylorMade Golf.

They also receive custom-fitted clubs, bags, shoes and gloves, as well as playing opportunities throughout the county at no cost to them, the hospital or the military.

Doctors, prosthetic specialists and counselors have found golf is an essential link to the rehabilitation process for combat-wounded military personnel with extreme physical and mental disabilities.

“I have witnessed firsthand how golf has instilled confidence and helped our injured heroes transition from the traumas of dangerous missions to the thrill of accomplishment that comes from hitting a green in regulation or sinking a birdie putt,” Perez said.

Earlier this year Perez created Home Town Veterans, an extension of Operation Game On that provides the same opportunities to troops who were discharged before they started lessons.

“Needless to say, they were very happy that their medical discharge was finally approved but disappointed that they didn’t have the opportunity to learn how to play golf,” he said. “On several occasions, some of the troops called OGO still wanting to learn how to play golf now that they are no longer serving and living back in their respective home towns.”

Perez said he contacted certified PGA teaching professionals in the areas where the troops lived and asked them to provide “our hometown heroes” with a series of eight beginner golf lessons.

Participants still receive custom-made equipment. All fees and costs are covered by Operation Game On.

The golf tournament is the organization’s main fundraiser and includes food and grog throughout the day, which ends with cocktails, a dinner buffet, a silent auction and raffle, awards and guest speakers beginning at 4:30 p.m.

New this year is a 15-inch cup challenge, mini bocce ball tournament, corn toss event and $10,000 cash prize for the first hole-in-one.

The cost is $325 per player. Visit operationgameon.org or contact Perez at (619) 997-0773 or pgapop@gmail.com to register or for more information.

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