Hundreds of people showed up or shelled out in support of Dataw Island’s Head Golf Pro, Chris Fearn, in his one-man Golf Marathon, completed today at dusk. Fearn teed off at 3:30 am and played until dark in order to raise money for wounded and disabled veterans through Tee It Up for the Troops (TIUFTT).
Last year, Fearn played an astounding 251 holes of golf before sun-down raising over $35,000. This year was his last “solo” year and he hoped to top his fundraising results. Based on pledges received at the time of this writing, Fearn will raise more than $40,000 once all pledges are collected, bringing his seven-year total to $200,000.
In a surprise action, event coordinator Col. Glenn Blackburn presented Fearn with a Governor’s proclamation naming today as “Tee It Up for the Troops Day” across the state of South Carlina. In doing so, Blackburn credited the Golf Pro with single-handedly bringing this recognition to our wounded and disabled veterans from the office of Gov. Henry McMaster.
Fearn said “It is really humbling – like it hasn’t even sunk in yet. I can’t believe they did this; it is truly so special!”
And, the folks at Tee It Up for the Troops (TIUFTT) are incredibly grateful. Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director of TIUFTT, said “During this Veterans Week, I want to recognize the hard work, imagination, and dedication of all the folks in the Dataw community and local supporters for our veterans and country. Each year, your wonderful community puts on an amazing display of patriotism and fun golf events! Thank you for your loyal support of our military veterans and their families!”
While it may have taken all day (and then some!), Fearn was able to complete an astounding number of holes to once again break his record:
Hole Played: 253
Birdies Made: 55
Eagles Made: 2
“I have to admit,” said Fearn, “Waking up at 2:45am and knowing that I’m about to play golf for 14 hours straight, with the first three-plus hours in the dark, is a little daunting, but it’s still a lot of fun since I know it’s for a great cause. Having members and veterans there cheering me on is really what keeps me going. Although it takes me a few days to recover afterwards, it’s a small sacrifice that I’m happy to make in the make of Tee It Up for the Troops.”
Supporters, primarily members of the private gated community of Dataw Island where Fearn works, pledge their choice of a per-hole amount or a flat amount, with the per-hole promises serving to encourage Fearn even more to complete as many holes as his body and daylight would allow. Each birdie and eagle he makes also increase the take, so playing fast and accurately are both goals.
In 2019, his 251 holes included a remarkable 42 birdies and 2 eagles. The year prior, Fearn was able to complete 227 holes, a feat that seemed unbeatable. Starting even earlier last year and playing with glow-in-the-dark balls and the lights shines by golf carts and flashlights, Fearn was determined to top his record. To keep it manageable pre-dawn, Fearn played holes #1 and #2 of the Morgan River repeatedly in the dark – a true test of patience and fortitude.
However, it paid off huge, resulting in record-high fundraising that has continued to grow year over year:
2014 – 118 Holes – 22 Birdies – 1 Eagle – $13,500 Raised
2015 – 135 Holes – 16 Birdies – 1 Eagle – $19,000 Raised
2016 – 191 Holes – 20 Birdies – 1 Eagle – $28,500 Raised
2017 – 219 Holes – 26 Birdies – 4 Eagles – $34,000 Raised
2018 – 227 Holes – 36 Birdies – 0 Eagles – $34,000 Raised
2019 – 251 Holes – 42 Birdies – 2 Eagles – $38,000 Raised
Total to date: $167,000
2020: Goal is to reach a total of $200,000 è SURPASSED!
TIUFTT Event Coordinator, Col. Glenn Blackburn, Ret. US Army, says that the Dataw Island partnership with the Disabled American Veterans – Chapter #12, Beaufort, SC and Tee It Up For The Troops has made this charity event a nationally recognized fundraiser. “The support that Dataw Island shows each year for these for non-profit service organizations is tremendous. Through sponsoring golf holes, Chris and his marathon, and the raffle, residents’ show amazing support for our wounded and disable veterans. Also, I want to emphasize the partnership with Disabled American Veterans Chapter twelve, who does a fantastic job of serving our veterans.”
The week-long celebration of service begins Sunday with a “Big Break” style golf tournament and on-course “Tips for the Troops” and continues Monday with the Chris Fearn Golf Marathon. Tuesday, a full field of golfers will take to the island’s two courses (Arthur Hills’ Morgan River and Tom Fazio’s Cotton Dike) for the Veterans Golf Classic. The events have been modified this year to observe social distancing, which did necessitate a number of the other annual events being cancelled or postponed. Dataw Island’s distinguished guest this year, Roy Brown JR, who normally would deliver an address to a packed room. This year, though, the speech will be broadcast digitally.
Roy Brown JR, Bio
Like all Americans, 9/11 shook JR to the core with the images of our country under attack. He was working two hours north of NYC when the world as we knew it was changed forever. Two months later he shipped out to Parris Island for bootcamp, just as his grandfather and uncle did before him. In 2002, JR was one of two Marines selected out of his Military Police class to attend the Military Working Dog (MWD) Canine Handlers Course in San Antonio, TX. This is where his love for dogs was created. In 2003, he deployed with a drug detection MWD to the El Paso, TX border region
in support of US Customs and Border Protection’s drug interdiction mission. During this mission he found approximately $2,000,000 worth of narcotics. In 2004, JR deployed with an explosive detection MWD in support of 1st Battalion 2nd Marines and the 155th Mississippi National Guard in and around Iskandariya, Iraq. With the help of his MWD Benny, they found numerous IEDs, VBIEDs, suicide vests and weapons caches.
After completing his enlistment in 2005, JR returned home only to redeployed to Iraq, like many combat Veterans, as a contractor in support of the US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of High Threat Protection, protecting US Diplomats until he was injured in a training accident in late 2007. JR then attended Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Business under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and served an internship with Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle of New York’s 25th congressional district. During this internship JR developed his passion for giving back to the
Veteran community. That and JR’s passion for dogs propelled him to bringing in like-minded individuals from the local business community to create Operation Patriots FOB. This organization has been a long-time dream of JR’s, as his true passion lies with helping Veterans at home to move onto their next chapter of life.
JR is married to Stephanie Brown and has two daughters, Isabella and Elliana. He enjoys including his girls in his outdoor passions.
“These men and women sacrifice so much for this country and they deserve our full support,” says Fearn, “Whether that is donating to a good cause or just simply being there for a veteran and telling them ‘Thank you’ for their service and sacrifice.”
In addition, a huge “Tee It Up for the Troops” online fundraising raffle has been coordinated to help aid in increasing the money raised to serve our wounded veterans.
To show your support, the Dataw Island Golf Pro Shop is accepting donations throughout the week.
Dataw Island is a gated golf, tennis and boating lifestyle community located fifteen minutes outside of historic downtown Beaufort. The island features two recently-renovated golf courses by designers Tom Fazio and Arthur Hills, a tennis center, a community center with workout and massage facilities, indoor and outdoor pools, three restaurants and impeccably-maintained croquet lawn, bocce, and coming soon: pickleball. The community has also been ranked the number one best retirement destination in South Carolina by Best Retirement Destinations and is the recipient of the Bliss Award for “Happiest South Carolina Community” and a recipient of the USTA Award for Top Tennis Facilities, as well as being named the “Best Club” by the SCGA.