A year ago on Sept. 11, the eerie timing of a friend’s death made Johan Immelman wonder if time was eroding memories of the terrorist attacks on America and how the citizens rallied behind one another the day after.
Ultimately, that brought together an eclectic mix of major champions, Super Bowl champions and military leaders last Tuesday at Lake Nona Golf Club to officially launch a program called “Golf 9/12.”
The idea is for golfers who take part in the program to tee it up at their local clubs on Sept. 12 next year in what is being billed as the largest multi-course golf event in the world.
Immelman, former commissioner of the Sunshine Tour and father of Masters champion Trevor Immelman, said his “big, hairy, audacious goal” is for 220 golf courses and 220,000 golfers to take part in the inaugural day.
“Golf 9/12” after next year would be held the first Monday after Sept. 11.
Why the focus on Sept. 12?
Rich Davies, a North Carolina developer and co-founder of the program, said it was a day of “pent-up enthusiasm to connect with one another.” And what better way to do that than through golf? Another founder is retired Col. Ray Horoho, whose wife was working in the Pentagon when it was struck by a hijacked plane.
Trevor Immelman and U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover also are involved, along with PGA Champion Davis Love III and Masters champion Larry Mize. Also pitching in are former NFL players Dan Marino, Wesley Walls, Jim Stuckey and Steve Marino, baseball star Johnny Damon and former coach Lou Holtz.
Johan Immelman said he was moved when a friend died in a private crash last year on Sept. 11 on his way to New York. The coincidence was so jarring that he met with Davies and they began concocting a plan to remember Sept. 11 and the feelings it inspired. The buzz words of the program are “Remember, Unite and Engage.”
Mobile technology is the key behind “Golf 9/12.” Everyone participating at various golf courses will be connected through live mobile scoring using a custom phone application.
Players would pay an additional $12 for the round, with money going to the Pentagon Memorial Fund, the 9-11 Memorial, Flight 93 Memorial, local First Responders, Armed Forces Charities and Friends of Freedom Charities.
Golf courses and players can register at www.golf912.org.
“It’s not all polished,” Davies said. “We’ve put this together on a shoestring budget. But that’s the beauty of it. This is a grassroots effort. We look forward to people saying, ‘I’d like to be a part of this.”’