Celebrity golfers birdie for the brave on Hilton Head

tbarton@islandpacket.comAugust 31, 2012 

  • The 32nd annual Hilton Island Celebrity Golf Tournament, which benefits local children's charities, gives the public the opportunity to play golf with 30 celebrities at three area courses.

  • Saturday: Dye Course at Colleton River Plantation Club

  • Sunday: Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort

  • Details: Spectators are welcome. Admission is free. VIP credentials required for admission to certain events. For information, call 843-842-7711 or go to www.hhcelebritygolf.com

After four combat tours in Iraq, Army Sgt. Juan Palacios of the 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Ga., knows the code: No soldier left behind -- whether on the battlefield or at home.

That goes for family as well.

He was overwhelmed Friday as 30 celebrities gathered on Hilton Head Island to help him honor that code during the 32nd annual Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament.

This year, the tournament partnered with the Hilton Head chapter of the Carolinas PGA to raise money for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships and other financial assistance to children and spouses of military members killed or disabled while serving.

"It shows a big sign of respect and humbleness for these professional athletes, musicians, actors and TV personalities to make room in their busy schedules to come out here and get involved and help," Palacios said.

The tournament will donate proceeds from its closest-to-the-pin contests to the foundation.

"It's great to know the family members are being taken care of, as well as the soldiers," Palacios said.

Former San Francisco Giants outfielder Reggie Smith, who played in three World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, yelped as Sgt. Robert St. George of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort landed his tee shot a few feet short of the hole on a par 3. Friday was Smith's fourth time playing in the 54-hole tournament, which has raised $3.9 million for children's charities.

"The people are great. It's a beautiful area, and it's provided so much valuable money to charities," Smith said, explaining why he returns year after year.

He was paired Friday with St. George and three other veterans and their wives at Palmetto Dunes' Robert Trent Jones course.

"We owe them that, for what the soldiers do for us to protect us and keep us safe," Smith said.

St. George was thrilled to be playing with one of his heroes.

"He was an icon growing up as a kid," St. George said of Smith. "It's an honor to play with him and great to see so many helping worthy causes and supporting military families."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

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Annual Hilton Head Celebrity Golf Tournament begins Friday: Aug. 30, 2012

Stars align for Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament this weekend: Aug. 29, 2012

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