EAST LANSING, Michigan – What began as something between an idea and personal mission for Michigan State men’s golf coach Casey Lubahn has turned into one of the bigger events in college golf. Certainly as important as any invitational.
MSU is hosting the second annual Folds of Honor Collegiate this Monday through Wednesday at the famed American Dunes Golf Course in Grand Haven, featuring 18 schools, including highly ranked programs such as Florida State and Arizona, along with all three service academies, two HBCUs and one Division II program, Grand Valley State.
The tournament, in conjunction with the Golf Coaches Association of America, benefits Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that gives scholarships to families of military members who’ve lost their lives or been disabled in action and recently began including families of first responders. To date the organization says it’s given out 44,000 scholarships.
MSU golf coach Casey Lubahn and his father Dale at USGA Qualifying in 2003. Dale is a Vietnam War veteran, giving extra meaning to Casey in having his MSU team host this week’s Fields of Honor Collegiate event at American Dunes Golf Course in Grand Haven.
“The golf course has been opened about a year and I hadn’t been there,” Lubahn said. “And when you get to the golf course (they take your clubs and) you walk through this living memorial, with all the folks that they honor there, and I just kept thinking (how) college athletics is growing very quickly. It’s about a lot of things, some of those good things and some of them maybe are about money and other things like that. What can we do to broaden our reach as a college golf community?”
Lubahn reached out to Folds of Honor founder Lt. Col. Dan Rooney with the idea for the tournament. Three days after MSU’s James Piot won the U.S. Amateur, Lubahn flew to Oklahoma to meet with Rooney.
“It (quickly) went from a very minor thing to the biggest thing in college golf,” Lubahn said.
It’s also an organization and cause dear to Jack Nicklaus, who designed American Dunes, giving it the nickname, “The church that Jack built.” Nicklaus was scheduled to meet with the teams on Sunday. “That’s how much he believes in this event,” Lubahn said.
And of course, it’s an event that means a lot to Lubahn’s father, Dale.
“It was so emotional,” Casey said of when he first told his father about it. “There’s not a day that goes by he doesn’t wear a veteran hat or has a veteran sticker on his on his truck. It’s just something that our veterans don’t talk about a lot. And to see kind of a rejuvenation of that pride in their service, and he’s certainly gone full circle. When I was growing up, I didn’t hear him talk about his service and now we talk about it a lot. And this event becomes special to him. He just walks around beams and talks about it with such pride.”
Contact Graham Couch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.