The Veteran Golfers Association (VGA) hosted its National Championship tournament in San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 4-7 at The Olympic Club, a spectacular course and host site to five previous U.S. Open Championships. The 2018 season-ending event showcased the determination and accomplishments of players and their families, as wounded veterans and Purple Heart recipients made up nearly half the field, and competitors ranged from enlisted personnel to two-star generals, spanning the Korean War through Post 9/11 veterans.
The field featured 90 regional winners competing for a coveted Red Jacket, which is ceremoniously awarded to VGA Champions in four divisions of competition: Veteran, Female Veterans, Combat Wounded, and Family members. For the players, the opportunity to travel for the VGA Championship was an honor in and of itself, as the season encompassed over 250 tournaments for more than 4,000 VGA members nationwide, hosted by military, public, and private courses alike.
“The Olympic Club has a history of staging great competition,” said Olympic Club Director of Golf Will Hutter. “Our members were truly honored to host the VGA Championship, and we look forward to hosting them again in the near future.”
“The VGA’s mission is to enhance the lives of veterans and their family members through the camaraderie and sportsmanship of golf,” said VGA President Joshua Peyton, a retired Army Captain and Army Ranger. “Our goal was to treat all of the players who qualified for this year’s championship like PGA Tour professionals for a few days in honor of their service, sacrifice and patriotism. With the help of The Olympic Club and TPC Harding Park, I think we accomplished that mission.”
The newly crowned 2018 VGA Champions are as follows:
2018 VGA Men’s Champion
Capt Brandon Johnson, USAF
Hometown: Duluth, MN
73 + 73 = 146
2018 VGA Women’s Champion
Col Linda Jeffery, USAF
Hometown: Abilene, TX
79 + 83 = 162
2018 VGA Wounded Veteran Men’s Champion
SPC Tony Bilich, US Army
Hometown: Hancock, MI
68 + 82 = 150
2018 VGA Vet B Flight Champion
TSgt Jack Barfield, USAF
Hometown: Oceanside, CA
71 = 83 = 184
2018 VGA Vet C Flight Champion
SSG Jeff Wilkerson, US Army
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
88 + 80 = 168
2018 VGA Vet D Flight Champion (net)
SSgt Ed Clauss (15), USMC
Hometown: Port Saint Lucie, FL
87/72 + 94/79 = 181/151
2018 VGA Wounded Vet B Flight Champion
GySgt Chad Calvert, USMC
Hometown: Scottsville, KY
75 + 84 = 159
2018 VGA Wounded Vet C Flight Champion
LTC Vic Ferraris, US Army
Hometown: Lexington, KY
88 + 88 = 176
2018 VGA Wounded Vet D Flight Champion (net)
SGT Adam Poppenhouse (14), US Army
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
89/75 + 97/83 = 186/158
2018 VGA Female Vet B Flight Champion
Col Tammy Cobb, USAF
Hometown: Bascom, OH
85 + 93 = 178
2018 VGA Female Vet C Flight Champion
LtCol Mary Riddell, USAF
Hometown: Aurora, CO
84 + 91 = 175
2018 VGA Female Vet D Flight Champion (net)
SPC Jennifer Purucker (21), US Army
Hometown: Richland, MI
99/78 + 104/83 = 203/161
2018 VGA Family A Flight Champion
Adam Columbia (US Army)
Hometown: Seattle, WA
78 + 76 = 154
2018 VGA Family B Flight Champion
Joey Todd (US Army)
Hometown: Bladenboro, NC
79 + 85 = 164
2018 VGA Family C Flight Champion (net)
Steve Fahrenkrug (US Army) (14)
Hometown: Neenah, WI
85/71 + 88/74 = 173/145
2018 VGA Family Female Flight Champion (net)
Debbie Smith (US Navy) (9)
Hometown: Pinehurst, NC
85/76 + 100/91 = 185/167