When the PGA Tour visits San Diego at the Farmers Insurance Open this month, members of the military will get the appreciation they deserve. For the fourth straight year, The George & Betty Harbaugh Charitable Foundation is sponsoring the Patriots’ Outpost, a private chalet at the 13th hole, where VIP treatment is on tap for active-duty military and their guests.
“As a former Air Force pilot, George loved our Freedom Fighters and he loved golf,” said Harbaugh Foundation Director Joseph Balla. “We will salute both at the Patriot’s Outpost.”
As the tournament attracts top golfers to Torrey Pines Golf Course, the Patriots’ Outpost will welcome soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, Coast Guard personnel and their guests during competitive rounds from Jan. 25 through Jan. 28.
Housed in a 6,000-square-foot tent, the Patriot’s Outpost offers a commanding view of the green, fairways and ocean. Inside, the guests of honor – hundreds of them -- will receive hospitality that includes tri-tip steak, complimentary beverages and front-row seats to watch the action. Another perk is the possibility of face-time with the athletes.During opening rounds last year, a young golfer from Spain came to the outpost to shake hands, pass out hats and sign autographs. His kindness did not distract from his game. The golfer was Jon Rahm and three days later, the 22-year-old won the tournament and his first PGA Tour title.
“Thanks to what you guys do, I’m able to do what I do,” Rahm told service members during his visit. “I wanted to personally thank you.”
Balla said later that the good guy finished first.
“Jon took his own time to stop by the Patriots’ Outpost, to interact with veterans and active military and to let them know how grateful he was for their service. It was very gratifying that he became the tourney champ!” Balla said.
The Patriots’ Outpost is one of many philanthropic causes supported by the Harbaugh Foundation, he said. While much of the grant-making supports programs tied to the military, the Solana Beach-based foundation also funds medical research, youth development, solutions for homelessness and land conservation.
In Solana Beach, the Harbaugh Foundation played a key role in the purchase and preservation of premium property overlooking San Elijo Lagoon. The land was zoned for a hotel.
At the Farmers Insurance Open, the Harbaugh Foundation underwrites the deployment of the Patriots’ Outpost and contributes to the Military Ticket Program, which provides free and discounted admission to active duty, reservist and retired military men and women and their dependents.
One member of the military, Navy SEAL instructor William Carroll, will hold court at the Patriots’ Outpost as a distinguished guest. Carroll recently received a $10,000 scholarship from the Harbaugh Foundation. The scholarship supported Carroll’s enrollment in The Honor Foundation, an exclusive, 15-week, executive education-styled transition program designed specifically for members of the U.S. Special Operations Forces community. Carroll recently graduated from the Honor Foundation’s program. At the Farmers Insurance Open, the Basic Underwater Demolitions instructor, husband and father of four can enjoy the action and gain unique access to networking with business and community leaders, Balla said.
Balla added that he looks forward to celebrating Carroll’s accomplishments and those of all military personnel who visit the Patriot’s Outpost, where flags, insignia and mottos will pay tribute to all military branches. All this, and some good food and drink, is a modest way of saying, “Thank you for your service.”
“It’s the least we can do,” Balla said.
The Harbaugh Foundation’s grants manager, Nicole Burhman, can be contacted at (206) 419-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.