Golf professionals Brian Burgwyn and Ryan Roberts were three hours into their 24-hour golf marathon before it was dark enough to bring out their glowing LED golf balls and glowstick necklaces.
As they tapped the balls toward the flag poles in the holes, which also were lit, the balls sometimes landed in the traps or ponds instead.
“Welcome to the golf course rave,” said Burgwyn after completing his first hole with the LED golf ball.
By now, the Prestonwood Country Club golf pros are used to golfing in the dark. This is the third year the pair have completed the 24-hour marathon to raise money for the Folds of Honor Foundation, a nonprofit organization that awards scholarships to the children of fallen and wounded soldiers.
This year’s marathon, which started Oct. 14 at 5 p.m. during the SAS Championship, is one of many fundraisers they have completed for the foundation in the last seven years.
They also have participated in other marathon events, including a 100-hole hike, where they walked more than 33 miles in 13 hours while playing 100 holes of golf. They have cumulatively raised about $50,000 for Folds of Honor.
Their support for Folds of Honor began when Roberts was inspired to help after hearing scholarship recipients speak about the organization at Professional Golfers’ Association meetings.
“You get really moved when you’re hearing their stories,” he said. “I went to school in Fayetteville right near Fort Bragg, and I have buddies in the military, so I was proud of what they do and I just wanted to kind of help in any way I can.”
Burgwyn and Roberts were joined by a 14-year-old club member and Green Hope High School student they called the “legendary Carter Massengill.” They were sent off with cheers from Prestonwood employees, members, visitors and SAS Championship participants as they teed off at their first hole.
I went to school in Fayetteville right near Fort Bragg and I have buddies in the military, so I was proud of what they do and I just wanted to kind of help in any way I can.
Supporting the fallen’s legacy
Wesley Bauguess also accompanied them for most of a round. Bauguess’ husband, U.S. Army Maj. Larry Bauguess, was killed in 2007 on a tour to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 36.
Bauguess, who lives in Wake Forest, describes Larry as a “beautiful blend of warrior and gentleman.” He was killed by a uniformed Pakistani Frontier Guardsman. He was with some U.S. and Afghani leaders on a trip into Pakistan to meet with Pakistani leaders to negotiate peace along the border.
“He stood in the line of fire between the shooter and his men,” she said. “Larry gave his life that day. Several of his men were wounded, and we were left with the challenge of learning to live without him.”
Their daughters, Ryann and Ellie, lost their father when they were 6 and 4 years old. Now 16 and 14, they have both received scholarships for up to $5,000 through the Folds of Honor Foundation because of their father’s sacrifice. This funding helps pay for their tuition to North Raleigh Christian Academy.
Bauguess now travels across the country for the Folds of Honor Foundation to share her story.
“I see his legacy every time I look into the eyes of our daughters, Ryann and Ellie,” she said Friday. “Those girls have his eyes. They have his spirit. They have his sense of humor, and they have his drive to succeed.”
Playing in the dark
As experienced 24-hour golfers, Burgwyn, 36, and Roberts, 29, knew to plan the event so they would knock out the night portion first. They arrived prepared with glow-in-the-dark gear, flashlights and headlamps.
During their first 18 holes, Burgwyn and Roberts strategically placed glow sticks around the course to mark bodies of water and other hazards. They wanted to prevent balls – or even golf carts – from entering the water.
They weren’t expecting a bright, nearly full moon to light the entire course, but that didn’t keep them from losing all but one of their LED golf balls.
“One of the lakes is lit up pretty well,” said Roberts, laughing about halfway through the marathon Saturday morning.
It also was the first year that Burgwyn and Roberts didn’t have to fight pouring rain and thunderstorms, but they did have to face stiff knees and exhaustion.
They relied on Sundrop and Coca-Cola to make it through 123 holes.
“About 1:30 last night, it got really, really nice out here,” Burgwyn said Saturday morning. “It was really bright as far as the moon, and it was really quiet out there.”
But that didn’t mean the marathon was any less entertaining. About halfway through the night, the lit flag pole from hole 13 was stolen.
“Someone took the whole thing,” Burgwyn said.
“That added to the drama,” Roberts said.
Several other Prestonwood employees and members joined the group along the way to play a few holes, watch or even bring the group something to eat.
“It’s been really successful, and it keeps on growing every year,” Burgwyn said. “We’ve been really fortunate to have everyone here at Prestonwood and everyone here at the SAS Championship, who have been really supportive.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon