Inaugural President's Cup in Korea highlights strength of ROK-US alliance
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- Sixty-two years ago as the dust settled from the ashes of the Korean War, an alliance between the Republic of Korea and the U.S. was born that has developed into one of the strongest partnerships in the world. The mutual commitment of both nations to the security of South Korea since the close of the war has opened the door for the ingenuity and blue-collar work ethic of the Korean people to flourish.
Today South Korea is a vibrant, modern nation steeped in its cultural history and traditions. The impact that the ROK-US Alliance has had over the last six decades can be seen throughout the country from Busan to Seoul.
The peace and stability that the ROK-US Alliance has helped to establish over the last 65 years was recently highlighted during the 2015 President's Cup Golf Tournament at the Jack Nicholas Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea from Oct. 8-11. This was the first President's Cup held in the land of the morning calm and the enduring partnership between both countries was a determining factor when the P.G.A. chose South Korea as this year's host.
"One of our primary goals of hosting the event here was to tell the story of the (ROK-US) Alliance and the story of rebuilding Korea since the war," said Matt Kamienski, Vice President of the P.G.A. Tour and Executive Director of the President's Cup. "(Just think) how much the U.S. and Korea collaborated to make this event possible."
"Where we are sitting right now here in Seongdo, Incheon is basically where (General Douglas) MacArthur landed 65 years ago in mid-September. I think the story lines along those are great and hopefully we will be able to (express) that throughout the (tournament)."
Another reason behind the P.G.A's decision to host this year's tournament in South Korea was to better inform American audience members about the enduring commitment of the Servicemembers who have proudly served here on Freedom's Frontier for the last 65 years.
"The (ROK-US) Alliance is not well known especially to our viewers back in the U.S.," Kamienski explained. "Even I didn't really know until I started working on this project that there are over 28,000 military still (stationed) here protecting and supporting our freedom."
"It is amazing how the military comes together to protect freedom here in this part of the world. I admire what you guys do and we will do anything we can to help support you."
As a way to give back to troops stationed here, the P.G.A. donated over 1,000 tickets to the tournament so they could experience a P.G.A. event in person.
"You do so much for us, it's a way of saying thanks," Kamienski said humbly. "We wouldn't be able to enjoy the liberties that we have and host an event like this in Korea if it wasn't for the job that our service men and women do every day. We just wish we could do more."
In support of the tournament, the Eighth Army Band and Color Guard participated in the Opening Ceremony and over 100 Servicemembers volunteered to serve as laser operators, escorts and assist crew members.
For Staff Sgt. Ricky Carter, stationed here with the 517th Movement Control Team, the opportunity to help out during the tournament was a surreal experience and much better than watching golf on the couch at home.
"When you see it on TV it's one thing, but to be here in person…and possibly meet one of your favorite players, it's a great experience."
Sgt. Ronald Griffith, also from the 517th Movement Control Team, couldn't agree more with Carter's impression.
"I've played golf for three years, but never had the chance to attend a professional event. It's an amazing opportunity to be a part of the atmosphere here."
Over the course of the tournament the servicemembers who volunteered left a good impression on Kamienski and he was happy to continue the long history of P.G.A. support to the military.
"The PGA tour has a long history of supporting the military, and it is something I am proud to be able to carry on with the President's Cup while we are here in Korea."