EAST LANSING – What began as something between an idea and a personal mission for Michigan State golf coach Casey Lubahn has turned into one of the major events in college golf. Certainly as important as any invitation.
MSU hosts 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 like Florida State and Arizona, along with all three service academies, two HBCUs and a Division II program, Grand Valley State.
The tournament, in partnership with the Golf Coaches Association of America, benefits Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to families of military members killed or disabled in action and recently began including families of first responders. To date, the organization says it has awarded 44,000 scholarships.
Lubahn, inspired by his father and his father’s service in the Vietnam War, came up with the vision for this event 2 1/2 years ago.
“The golf course has been open 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 people that they’re honoring there, and I just kept thinking (how) college athletics is growing very quickly. It is about a lot of things, some of the good things, and some of them maybe about money and other things like that. What can we do to expand our reach as a 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 went (quickly) from a very small 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 and nicknamed it “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 dad about it. “Not a day goes by that he doesn’t wear a veteran’s hat or have a veteran’s sticker on his truck. It’s just something that our veterans don’t talk about much. And to see a kind of rejuvenation of that pride in their service, and he has definitely come full circle. Growing up, I didn’t hear him talk about his service, and now we talk about it a lot. And this event is going to be special for him. He just goes around talking about it with such pride.”
Contact Graham Couch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.
This article originally appeared on the Lansing State Journal: Michigan State golf hosts the Folds of Honor Collegiate at American Dunes