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Inaugural Patriot All-America Invitational to be Held this December at The Wigwam

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Arizona Golf Association, The Wigwam and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) have partnered with the Folds of Honor Foundation to host the inaugural Patriot All-America Invitational. The 54-hole amateur event will be held Dec. 28-30 at The Wigwam in Litchfield Park, Ariz., and will feature current men’s collegiate golfers. The Patriot All-America will be hosted by the Arizona Golf Association with invitations administered by the GCAA.

Invitations to the Patriot All-America will be primarily based on individuals earning PING All-America honors the previous season in NCAA Divisions I, II and III as well as the NAIA and NJCAA Divisions I and II. Additionally, a member from the United States Military, Naval and Air Force Academies will be invited annually as well as GCAA national award recipients, members of the most recent Palmer Teams and AJGA All-Americans and Toyota Junior Golf World Cup participants currently enrolled in their freshman year of college.

In cooperation with the Folds of Honor Foundation, each participant in the Patriot All-America Invitational shall represent a fallen service member. Every player shall receive a golf bag at the event’s opening ceremony with the name and branch of service of a fallen military member whom they shall represent. At the conclusion of the event these golf bags will be auctioned with all proceeds designated for the Folds of Honor Foundation which provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving our great nation.

“The Folds of Honor is excited to partner with the Arizona Golf Association, The Wigwam and the GCAA in an attempt to bring genuine patriotism back to Our Nation’s Universities through the benevolent nature of the game of golf,” said Folds of Honor founder Major Dan Rooney. “The Nation’s top amateur golfers will compete with the name and memory of a service member written on their bags, acknowledging the fact that their sacrifice was valuable and Freedom is not Free.”

In its 80-year history, The Wigwam resort has hosted some of the world’s most recognized public figures and sports legends and maintains a reputation as one of the Southwest’s landmark resort destinations. Today, The Wigwam continues to be a travel tradition for generations of families across the globe offering an entirely unique Arizona family resort experience where casual elegance meets historic charm. In December 2009, The Wigwam was purchased by JDM Partners, led by sports icon Jerry Colangelo.

The Wigwam’s three 18-hole championship golf courses offer a diversity that cannot be matched by any other Arizona resort. Here, the golf enthusiast has their pick of not just one or two courses, but three 18-hole courses - 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. And, in true Wigwam style, each course - The Gold, Patriot and Heritage offers a unique challenge that adds spice and variety to one’s stay at this timeless and relaxing retreat.

In January 2011, the resort unveiled the completion of a $7 million rejuvenation project and re-launch under its original name - The Wigwam.

“The Wigwam is thrilled to be involved with all of the partnering organizations to present the inaugural Patriot All-America. This tournament is destined to become the premier amateur golf event comprised solely of college players in the nation and we are pleased to have it staged in Arizona,” said Tom O’Malley, chief operating officer of JDM Partners.

The Arizona Golf Association has been serving amateur golfers in Arizona since 1923 when it held the first State Amateur Championship. Today, it is licensed by the United States Golf Association to provide handicapping and course rating services to member clubs, to provide tournament and rules expertise and to oversee the application of amateur status.

“We are proud to join the GCAA, The Wigwam and Folds of Honor to present this unique inaugural championship which not only honors NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, NJCAA and AJGA All-Americans but also pays tribute to our military heroes through the Folds of Honor Foundation,” said Ed Gowan, Executive Director of the Arizona Golf Association.

Folds of Honor, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a mission to empower deserving military families with educational support and opportunities, is helping fill this gap by providing post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving our great nation.

There are more than 220,000 dependents of fallen and wounded military service men and women from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts alone and 85 percent do not qualify for federal educational assistance (as of February, 2011). The Folds of Honor wants to help ensure that no family is left behind in the field of battle, making sure that we honor their sacrifice and educate their legacy.

Major Rooney, a PGA Professional, USGA member, former college golfer at the University of Kansas and former F-16 military pilot with the Oklahoma Air National Guard, founded the Folds of Honor Foundation in 2007 following his second of three tours of duty in Iraq. While a passenger on a commercial flight, Major Rooney witnessed an event that would profoundly change 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.” Major Rooney watched through the window of the plane as the flag-draped casket was lowered. He saw a family waiting for Brock, and a little four-year old boy waiting for his father. This tragic homecoming inspired Major Rooney to create the Folds of Honor Foundation.