PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Jan. 4, 2012) -- Patriot Golf Day and Folds of Honor Foundation Founder Maj. Dan Rooney, a PGA Professional and former F-16 Fighter Pilot, was named recipient of the William D. Richardson Award, presented by the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), recognizing individuals who have consistently made an outstanding contribution to golf.
Rooney will be honored along with GWAA Players of the Year Luke Donald, Yani Tseng and Tom Lehman; Ben Hogan Award recipient Sophie Gustafson; and ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award recipient Brad Faxon, April 4, at the GWAA Annual Awards Dinner in Augusta, Ga.
A resident of Broken Arrow, Okla., Rooney served three combat tours in Iraq as a member of the Oklahoma Air National Guard. In 2007, Rooney founded Patriot Golf Day and the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships to the children or spouses of military men and women who were killed or disabled while serving our great nation. Patriot Golf Day, Folds of Honor's flagship fundraising event and one of the largest grassroots fundraising efforts in sports history, is a collaborative effort with The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association.
Patriot Golf Day has raised more than $12 million in donations from golfers nationwide since 2007, including a record $3.7 million in 2011 alone. Each Labor Day Weekend, golfers are asked to donate at least $1 for each round of golf they play. From the proceeds, Folds of Honor has awarded more than 2,600 scholarships to deserving candidates.
The Richardson Award was named for The New York Times’ William D. Richardson, who was instrumental in the founding of the GWAA in 1946. Past recipients include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Jack Burke Jr., Pete Dye, PGA Past President Max Elbin, Pete Dye, Louise Suggs, Judy Rankin, Nancy Lopez, Judy Bell, Babe Zaharias, Patty Berg, Harvey Penick, Peggy Kirk Bell and Kathy Whitworth.
"The PGA of America is proud to congratulate PGA Professional, Major Dan Rooney, on being such a deserving recipient of the William D. Richardson Award from the Golf Writers Association of America," said PGA President Allen Wronowski. "Dan’s extraordinary contributions to the goodwill of the families of soldiers through Patriot Golf Day and the Folds of Honor Foundation define what it means for the game of golf to give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our country."
"I am honored and humbled to receive the William D. Richardson Award from the Golf Writers Association of America," said Rooney. "I look forward to accepting in Augusta on behalf of all of the PGA Professionals and the millions of golfers who have made Patriot Golf Day possible. Together, we have positively impacted the lives of those who serve this great Nation."
Rooney founded the Folds of Honor Foundation following his second tour of duty in Iraq in 2007. While a passenger on a commercial flight, Rooney witnessed an event that profoundly changed his life. As the plane landed, the pilot announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have an American hero on board – Corporal Brock Bucklin - and his twin brother, Corporal Brad Bucklin, is accompanying him home from Iraq. As a sign of respect, please remain seated while Corporal Bucklin’s family receives him in his final homecoming."
Rooney watched through the window of the plane as the flag-draped casket was lowered. He saw a family waiting for Brock, and a four-year old boy waiting for his father. That homecoming scene became the inspiration for Rooney to create the Folds of Honor Foundation.
The PGA’s first-ever Patriot Award recipient, Rooney has received the White House's Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Air National Guard's Distinguished Service Medal and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He also has been recognized as one of People Magazine's "2008 Heroes of the Year" and that year was also one of ABC World News Tonight's "Persons of the Year."
Rooney is the founder of The Patriot, a Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed course near Tulsa, Okla. The Patriot is the home to the Folds of Honor Foundation headquarters. A portion of the initiation fees from national memberships at The Patriot directly benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation.
Along with his father, John, Rooney is also a co-owner of the historic Grand Haven (Mich.) Golf Club.