The luckiest man in golf this week — or at least the happiest — is Zachary Conklin, the winner of GOLF Magazine's Hawaii Dream Contest.
For writing the winning essay, Mr. Conklin earns a four-night stay at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii (a GOLF Magazine Premier Resorts Platinum Award winner), round-trip airfare for two to Hawaii, one pro-am spot in the Champions Tour's Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, two VIP passes for the hospitality tent and a gift bag. All told, the prize package is worth an estimated $10,000.
When contacted by GOLF Magazine, Conklin was ecstatic. "Are you serious?" he responded. "This is fantastic. I know the hotel from when I was stationed in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division. I know the golf course, and I've seen the tournament on television. The pros look like they're having the best time. I can't imagine anything better."
SFC Conklin has served in the United States Army for the past 16 years, completing multiple tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Needless to say, mid-January's deployment will be much more fun.
Conklin's essay was one of more than 1,000 entries that GOLF Magazine received in response to the offer in our October 2012 "No. 1s" issue, where we asked readers to tell us why this would be a dream trip. What impressed the judges most was not only Sergeant Conklin's admirable service to the country, but also his declaration that golf has been his salvation both when he is home and when he is deployed. Congratulations, Sergeant Conklin. We salute you. Aloha!
Here is his winning entry:
"I have served in the U.S. Army for the past 16 years, returning from my fifth deployment to Iraq and now most recently Afghanistan just last week. I have been an absolute golf fanatic for the last 10 years, and it has been my sanctuary not only when I'm home, but also when I'm deployed. I still have the pictures and memories to sustain me through the tragedies that come with war, like loss of friends or missing your family. Golf has done that for me. — SFC Zachary B. Conklin"