Veterans participate in Birdies for Brave - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Travelers Championship

Veterans participate in Birdies for Brave

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Military members enjoyed the Birdies for the Brave promotion at the Travelers Championship. (WFSB) Military members enjoyed the Birdies for the Brave promotion at the Travelers Championship. (WFSB)

The Travelers Championship is free for military members and their families and during the celebrity pro-am, some got the chance to go inside the ropes to experience how the PGA Tour works.

JR Stimmel has been in the United States Navy for nearly 19 years now. However, Stimmel said being out on the golf course is a little different than his job in Groton.

"A lot more wide open spaces than there are on boats,” Stimmel said.

On Wednesday, Stimmel was part of a group of select servicemen and women, who get to caddy for a professional golfer on the 17th hole.

"It's a golf course that I'd never get to play, that I wouldn't want to play because I'd tear it up and do terrible,” Stimmel said. “But, yeah it's a really great opportunity."

It's called birdies for the brave, an outreach initiative supported by the PGA Tour. Stimmel was paired up with Smylie Kaufman on Wednesday.

"It's always cool to meet these guys and it's an honor for both of us to do,” Kaufman said.

Off the course, there is a place for all military members and their families to grab a bite to eat, cool off and relax.  

It's called the Patriots Outpost and on Wednesday was filled with current and retired military members Including a 93-year-old World War II veteran.

"Just to have them there telling us what they did, where they served,” Sharon O'Brien with St. Francis Hospital said. “Veterans coming in telling us about the Vietnam war, coming in. They're just so thankful that we're able to do this for them."

St. Francis Hospital has worked with military members at Travelers since 2007. This year members and their family members get in to the tournament for free. It's sponsored in part by Bear’s barbeque.

"We do it just because personally I feel I'm doing well, the business is doing well, and as a business we should give back,” Jamie McDonald, who is the owner of Bears BBQ, said.

For these golfers, it's one hole in the world of the PGA Tour. But for the military members, a walk down the fairway they won't soon forget.

"Really appreciative of the military, and it's really nice, great guys,” Stimmel said.

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