Many, many golfers and Golf Channel viewers have stepped up to send golf balls to Iraq, where soldiers, sailors, Marines and other personnel hit them in their down time to relieve the stress of a difficult 'sometimes disheartening ' mission.
In my column from September 16, I introduced you to Capt. David Sifferd, an Army Reserve chaplain stationed in Iraq. David, an old high school friend of mine, was characteristically thinking of others when he answered an e-mail in which I had asked what he needed over there.
I can really get most everything I need here, David said, except for golf balls. If you run across any groups that might want to donate old used golf balls, could you send me the address? I have a few clubs in my office that I let soldiers use to hit balls into the field behind our headquarters. Problem is that they are usually irretrievable. Great stress relief, though!
I put the word out, and golf responded. Some generous folks e-mailed me to report on their efforts. Heres a tip-of-the-iceberg sample.
I read you article concerning Capt. Sifferd. It was an answer to my wife's prayer. Golf balls all over the place (31 lbs.).They arrived rather quickly in Iraq and Chaplain Sifferd responded with a thank-you letter. John Vener
My friend worked some magic. Between a group of golfers, her husband's hunting buddies, and a bowling league (elderly ladies on fixed incomes, no less), she collected enough donations to mail around 2000 golf balls. What an accomplishment! This eliminated the golf course's collection of old range balls, so we're working now to gather more. My son is also serving in Iraq, so I find it especially comforting and encouraging to see such awesome support from so many segments of our civilian population. Elizabeth Radabaugh
Your article hit home because my son, Lt. Douglas Huttenlocker, just returned from Sather AFB in Baghdad and one of the photos he sent me was him hitting golf balls in the desert while in his Air Force desert uniform. I hope others are doing this for our troops as well. Kudos to you and Capt. Sifferd! John Huttenlocker, North Tonawanda, N.Y.
I have a soldier deployed with [Capt. Sifferd] and forwarded your article to the parents of the other soldier in the picture. What fun to see our guys! I sent them a bucket of balls (and tees) a week or so ago...maybe others will send more. Laurie Weissbrod
Here I am, supposedly a grizzled old soldier, with over 24 years in the Army.and your article put a lump in my throat! You hit Chaplain Sifferds character and mannerisms to a 'tee!' Thank you for helping David take care of these troops out here in harms way. Hooah! Command Sgt. Major Jim Allen,
Camp Victory, Iraq
Ive got 200 balls headed to Captain Sifferd. My son served in Iraq and thank God, came home in one piece. I appreciate what Captain Sifferd and all of our troops do and 200 golf balls is the least that I can do. Thanks. Gary Ward,
I work part time as a ranger at a nearby course and have a five gallon bucket filled with golf balls I've found while making my rounds. My wife keeps asking me what I'm going to do with them. Now I have a perfect place for them. God bless our troops. I'm a Vietnam Vet and know all about stress relief when you're many thousands of miles from home and in harm's way to boot. Bill Monger, Brighton, Mich.
To save shipping costs, I took a bag containing about 20 dozen used golf balls and I threw in an old sand wedge and 7-wood and dropped them off at the local Marine Corps recruiting station. They agreed to send them overseas to their troops in Iraq. In addition, I put one local course in touch with an Army recruiter so that they could donate their used range balls to the troops. The recruiter agreed to pick them up at the course and get them shipped overseas. I think this is a great way to help support the troops regardless of our political beliefs or our feelings about the war. Steve Broome, Eugene, Ore.
Mr. Broome solved the problem of shipping costs, which are daunting to some. But every half dozen counts, so theres no package thats too small. If you choose to go the mail route, however many you choose to send, domestic postage rates apply ' the Army takes over once you get the balls to the U.S.-based Army Post Office (APO). Theres a simple customs form to fill out at the post office.
Heres the address again:
CH (CPT) DAVID SIFFERD
15th PSYOP BN
APO AE 09342
Dave has contacted me a number of times, in between his duties as chaplain, to thank us for the parade of boxes that has crossed his desk. Here's an excerpt from the camp newsletter:
'[F]ollowing the article, people from across the country started sending boxes of used golf balls. We've received more than 40 boxes to date. We've also received clubs and other accessories. Even the non-golfers are getting in on the fun. I've set up some old carpets and rubber tees behind our headquarters and soldiers whack away at the balls every day, hitting them into the empty field behind our headquarters. '
And dont worry, the golf industry is getting into the act, too. The folks at Top-Flite, one of Callaway Golfs brands, quietly sent 800 dozen balls over ' quietly, because they werent seeking publicity, just doing the right thing. I promised not to mention the names of the execs responsible ' but they know who they are.
And thanks to the efforts of so many of you, U.S. and Canadian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan know who you are ' golfers. Which is to say, generous lovers of the greatest sport.
Thanks, and keep up the good workuntil those faraway foursome-mates can come home and pat you on the back themselves.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr