PISCATAWAY, N.J. (November 9, 2013) – Out on the links with the Rutgers men’s golf team, there is one golf bag that stands out from the others. Where the rest lack any personalization, this bag holds the name of Staff Sergeant Christopher Webb, a fallen U.S. soldier.
The Rutgers men’s golf team has joined forces with the Folds of Honor Foundation to help in their mission to support veterans and their families. The foundation provides scholarship along with other assistance to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled during their service to our country.
Rutgers head coach Rob Shutte started to wonder what the team could do for the Folds of Honor Foundation and soon realized the open spot on his players’ golf bags.
“We never had anything embroidered on our bags,” Shutte explained. “We didn’t have the players’ names because I always wanted them to play for Rutgers, and not for themselves.”
Shutte found this as the perfect opening to incorporate the Folds of Honor’s initiative into the program. He decided that by embroidering the name of a U.S. veteran it would bring awareness to the foundation and serve an even bigger meaning to the program.
The Scarlet Knights honor Staff Sergeant Christopher Webb, a California native who had been stationed in New Jersey before his deployment. Sergeant Webb was killed on March 7, 2007, by an I.E.D. in Iraq, leaving behind wife Shalan and newborn daughter.
“We are happy to honor Sergeant Webb. The Folds of Honor suggested him to us and I liked the connection because we have three players that are from California,” said Shutte. “Shalan is also involved with graduate work nearby at Seton Hall. Honoring Sergeant Web was a great fit all around.”
Although Rutgers is the first team to take part in this program, come December all the collegiate golf teams across the country will have the opportunity to honor a fallen hero from their area. The team can choose to have one assigned to them or select someone of their own.
The name of that solider is to be embroidered onto one sole golf bag and brought to every tournament with the team. The embroidered name stands as a symbol to create awareness amongst the student-athletes and to support the goal of the foundation.
“Our bag is the very first bag off the bus when we travel, and the last one back on. It rotates on our team who gets the privilege to carry the bag that day. The bag is always in use and is never that the bottom of a pile,” Shutte explained. “We treat it with just as much respect as if it were a person.”
Rutgers men’s golf is grateful for the opportunity to aid the Folds of Honor in supporting the families and loved ones of our veterans. The team has gained a new outlook on the game they play and even further beyond it.
“I think it is a great idea that puts the whole game and sport into perspective,” said senior Jonathan Renza (Cortland Manor, N.Y.). “As a team, the bag sets an example and we try to have a player that shows that leadership and those skills to carry the bag each tournament. In the end, the score is just a score, there are still a lot of things in life that people have to struggle through than just shooting a bad round.”
The Scarlet Knights had the bag embroidered before their final tournament of the fall season, the Lehigh Invitational in late October at Saucon Valley Country Club. The team responded by winning the event and senior Doug Walters (Blairstown, N.J.) captured individual medalist honors. It marked the second tournament win this fall for RU after also capturing the Hartford Hawks Invitational title in September.
The Scarlet Knights open their spring campaign against Cal-State Fullerton in February and will get the chance to spread more awareness for the foundation. If you would like to learn more about the Folds of Honor Foundation, please visit http://www.foldsofhonor.org