Two hundred active duty Soldiers met at the Courses of Clear Creek Friday morning to participate in the Ben Hogan Classic. 

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, opened up the tournament by thanking the foundation.

“As I got introduced to the foundation, I realized there’s nothing that this group does that’s not first class to include, six months ago, the foundation comes down from Dallas on an afternoon, just to explain to me in detail what they stand for and what they do,” Efflandt said. “Not only are Soldiers a great benefactor, but so are communities and so are young people. It’s clearly a group that’s invested in the future of America and I think that’s something a foundation whose values very closely align with ours. This is year number eight that this first- class foundation has given us this recreational opportunity.”

He ended his opening remarks by thanking the CEO of the Ben Hogan Foundation, Robert Stennett, and presenting him with a special award to show Fort Hood’s appreciation for all of his hard work and his desire to serve Soldiers.

Stennett was grateful for the award and acknowledged he was accepting it on behalf of everyone involved to make the event happen.

“I told everyone last night, ‘I think we enjoy this more than you do,’” Stennett stated to the participants after accepting the award. “It’s a privilege for us to come down and serve you for one day and to thank you for the service and the freedom that you allow us to enjoy every day.”

Stennett was happy to finally be able to host the event for the Soldiers.

“We’re honored to be the first event. We developed a pretty robust COVID procedure … spacing people out last night, masks and gloves for the volunteers,” Stennett said. “We’ve got 50 things we’re doing different. It’s been challenging, but we’re just thrilled that we’re finally able to pull it off.”

He knew they didn’t want to cancel the event all together because this is a special event to the foundation and it’s volunteers.

Though they had to reduce the number of volunteers they normally have, due to COVID-19, Stennett admitted this is an event where he never has to reach out for volunteers.

“Everyone that comes down here says, ‘May we please come back again next year?’ They all want to come down and serve the Soldiers for a day,” Stennett said. “So, this is kind of our way to give them a day off and let them have a fun day and for us to say thank you.

Capt. Taylor Brown, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, participated in the tournament last year and was excited to participate again this year.

“It’s free for everybody (active duty). You come out here, they treat you first class everything. First class golf, food, drinks. They give unbelievable gift prizes … it’s a special day, (I’m) very happy to come, look forward to it every single year,” Brown said.

Brown believes that it’s important for Soldiers to participate in events like this to allow them time to refresh their minds in order to be the best Soldier they can be.

“We live a stressful life … you look forward to something like this. All week I’ve been thinking about (how) I can’t wait until Friday. I get to come out here, get away, play some golf, take my mind off of work and then get set back in and get back to work,” Brown said.

The Ben Hogan Classic was originally scheduled for April 24, but was postponed due to coronavirus.

“This is our one opportunity … where we can actually look them (Soldiers) in the eye and they can see the sincerity and the genuineness of the volunteers,” Stennett said. “It’s really so neat for our volunteers, because you can donate to things and you can do things, but this is one where they can come down, live the experience and see the Soldier, look them in the eye and say, ‘Thank you for your service to our country.’ People don’t get the opportunity to do that very often.”