PGA TOUR Players Rally To Support U.S. Troops Through Fourth Annual TPC Sawgrass Birdies for the Brave Fundraiser

Despite the grueling demands of life on the PGA TOUR, six TOUR players made time during their busy schedules and braved the Florida heat to participate in TPC Sawgrass’ Fourth Annual Birdies for the Brave fundraising golf tournament on Monday, September 14.

“It’s a little hot out here today, but it really makes you think about the challenges our troops face every day,” said Frank Lickliter II after participating in the tournament on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course, where each foursome had the opportunity to play one hole with a TOUR player. “Consider our brave military men and women doing all that they do to keep our country safe in 120, 130 degree temperatures on a daily basis – not to mention the enormous risks they take to preserve our freedom.”

Lickliter was joined in the event by TOUR players Fred Funk, Andy Bean, Jeff Klauk, Bob Duval and Billy Kratzert, all of whom were more than happy to support our brave service members and their families. In all, 216 golfers participated in the tournament, including wounded warriors, active duty and retired service members from all five branches of the military, and representatives from all six Birdies for the Brave military homefront groups. Also participating was former Long Drive Champion Art Sellinger, who also conducted a long drive clinic the previous day.

The tournament was kicked off with a military-themed Opening Ceremony on the practice facility hosted by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, where D-Day veteran and local Ponte Vedra Beach hero Jim Gaff served as a special guest.

Monday’s event was preceded on Sunday evening with a Birdies for the Brave pairings reception in TPC Sawgrass’ magnificent Mediterranean Revival-style clubhouse, where decorated Navy Admiral Byron Fuller – who was a POW with John McCain in Hanoi for six years – served as the guest of honor. The event included live music and both live and silent auctions featuring some outstanding golf vacation packages, sports memorabilia and sporting event experiences. Sunday evening’s reception, combined with Monday’s golf tournament, was successful in raising $250,000 for the six Birdies for the Brave homefront groups.

During the past four years, PGA TOUR Charities has raised more than $3.5 million for the six Birdies for the Brave military homefront groups, which provide vital programs and services designed to meet the unique needs of service members returning home from active duty and their families.

For more information on PGA TOUR Charities’ Birdies for the Brave program, including a list of Birdies for the Brave events scheduled at TPC and Heritage Golf Group clubs, please visit

Exclusive Invitation from TPC Sawgrass
3 Rounds/3Nights - Starting at $554/Person

Package Details

  • 3-nights accommodation

  • 1 round on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course (Forecaddie included)

  • 1 round on Dye’s Valley Course1 9-hole practice round on Dye’s Valley Course (twilight times only - after 3pm)

  • Practice balls included

  • ”Learn How to Play THE PLAYERS Stadium Course” session at the TOUR Academy (4-5pm)

  • TPC Sawgrass Welcome Gift

  • $75 bounce-back golf credit, good for one year Black out dates may apply

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Two Keys for an “On Plane” Swing and More Solid Shots
By John Stahlschmidt

There is no doubt that making an “on-plane” backswing will improve the consistency of your shots. When the club falls “off plane” during the backswing, it must rejoin the correct plane at some point during the downswing for solid contact. The more “re-routing” that must occur to return the clubface squarely to the ball, the greater chance for inconsistency. Follow these two simple checkpoints during the backswing and you will have a much better chance to keep your swing on plane and hit more solid shots.

The first key checkpoint is what we refer to as Position #1(see left photo). The correct motion of the hands and arms as the club starts away from the ball is essential to an on-plane backswing. The arms must swing back as the hands remain relatively close to the body. 

In addition, the wrists need to hinge upward. The common mistake is to roll the wrists to the right during the takeaway. Rolling the wrists forces the club head to the “inside” and immediately the club is “off plane”.  Generally, if the club head swings too far to the inside at position #1, the shaft will swing along a very steep plane during the second half of the backswing almost guaranteeing an “over-the-top” downswing.

The second key checkpoint is what we refer to as Position #2 (see right photo).  If I drew a line from the shaft of the club down to the ground, that line would point at – or very close – to the extended target line. This is ideal and from here not too much can go wrong back to the ball. 

We always use the phrase "you have to feel it to fix it". Obviously it is impossible to see where your club is during the swing so I recommend rehearsing swinging to these positions in front of a mirror.  This will allow you to see and feel the ideal backswing.

John Stahlschmidt  is the Head Instructor for the TOUR Academy at TPC Scottsdale.

Email John with comments at

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