GREENSBORO, N.C. – A pair of the nation’s top Division III golfers, both with local ties, took to the course over the holidays in the Patriot All-America Championship. Ben Nihart of Greensboro College and Guilford College’s Noah Ratner traveled cross country to Phoenix, Ariz., to participate in the three-day event, consisting of over 80 Division I, II and III PING All-Americans from the previous season.
In cooperation with the Folds of Honor Foundation, each participant in the Patriot All-America Invitational represented a fallen United States service member. Each player in the field received a bag with the name of a fallen military member.
Greensboro College and Guilford College are working in conjunction to hold a silent auction with proceeds going to the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving our great nation.
Nihart represented Christopher S. Cash, a fallen Captain in the Army, from Winterville, N.C. Cash was the commander of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and was killed in action on June 24, 2004. His unit was clearing passage for school children in Baqubah, Iraq when it came under attack by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Cash had opened the hatch of his vehicle and was relaying verbal directions to those on the outside when he was fatally injured.
Cash, 36, is survived by his wife, Dawn. He had two sons from a previous marriage; Matthew, 11, and Christopher, 13. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service and the Purple Heart for being injured in combat.
“The Patriot All-America Championship was a very unique experience,” said Nihart. “Being able to represent Captain Christopher Cash during the tournament was an honor. Carrying the bag of a fallen soldier throughout the tournament added extra motivation. It is a tournament that will grow and gain praise in the years to come.”
Ratner represented Army Major Larry J. Bauguess, Jr., of Moravian Falls, N.C. He died from wounds suffered due to enemy small-arms fire May 14, 2007, in Teri Mengel, Pakistan, an area that had been experiencing severe border fighting. Before his most recent deployment, Bauguess and his family assisted with the filming of videos used to prepare other military personnel and their families deal with overseas deployment, service and being away from a loved one. He was a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient.
“It was such an honor to represent those who fought for our freedom and to really put an emphasis on how lucky we are to have such amazing people out there who are willing to give their lives for our great country,” Ratner said. “This tournament will only grow and keep getting more attention, which it deserves, with the caliber of players that were in attendance. My goal is to try to get an invite back, because it was one of the best experiences of my life.”
To place a bid on the bag of Ben Nihart, email head Greensboro College golf coach Dirk Fennie at firstname.lastname@example.org. To bid on the Ratner/Bauguess bag, contact Guilford coach Corey Maggard at email@example.com. The bidding will begin at $1,000.