Green Berets & the PGA
From Guns to Golf
The legacy of U.S. Army Special Forces looms large over the PGA tour, with perhaps the tour’s most famous golfer, Tiger Woods, own connection to Special Forces. Tiger’s father, Earl, served two combat tours in Vietnam, first as an infantry officer, and second with the elite Army Special Forces, where his primary focus was explosives. It was in Vietnam that Earl learned to play golf, and met Tiger’s mother – so it’s safe to say with Special Forces, there is no Tiger Woods.
Tiger isn’t the only major player to have Special Forces in the family. Bubba Watson, 2012 and 2014 Masters champion, was also related to Special Forcers where his father served as a Green Beret and served as a stark reminder to Bubba to never quit.
"My dad – who was a tough guy, a Green Beret – always looked nice and wore these bright Sansabelt pants. He always said, “You have two options: You can be a follower or you can be a leader. And you don’t ever want to follow anybody.” And that’s kind of become my philosophy about everything.
While less famous, other Green Berets have been cutting their path on the tour.
Take Brent Bartels, who recently made the cut at the Wisconsin state amateur. While fighting ISIS, Four American soldiers – Bartels’ buddies – were killed. The squad leader, Capt. Michael Perozeni, was shot in the back as the unit, supported by 30 Nigerian soldiers, retreated. He fell out of the truck Bartels was driving. Bartels doubled back to pick him up and was shot through the elbow, the bullet shattering bones and exiting his forearm.
Or Chris Erwin, who left the tour to deploy as an intelligence analyst to Syria with 5th Special Forces Group. Erwin came back from Syria with a renewed focus to get on the tour and continues to perform better than ever in competition.