Rhodes Ranch in Las Vegas to host Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation golf tournament

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Few people, if any, are tougher than Randy Couture. After all, the expert mixed martial artist, known as the "Natural," is the only five-time champion in the history of his sport, and he has held Ultimate Fighting Championship titles in two different weight divisions.

Randy Couture
It's important to "get involved and contribute to those soldiers who are putting it on the line," Couture says.
Randy CoutureRhodes Ranch Golf Club

But Couture will be the first to tell you he's got nothing on what many U.S. soldiers have gone through in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially those who have been wounded in action. That's why he and his wife Kim founded the Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation a year and a half ago.

On Thursday Sept. 25, you can join Couture's cause at Rhodes Ranch Golf Club in Las Vegas by playing in his first-ever charity golf tournament to benefit the G.I. Foundation. Those who play will not only be helping a good cause, but they also will have a chance to meet the Coutures and several other top fighters as well as celebrities from the entertainment industry.

The scramble tournament will pair four-person amateur teams with a celebrity. The event will be part of a weekend celebration that will also include an auction, food and entertainment. Cost of the tournament is $175. The field is limited to the first 144 players.

Couture served six years in the Army from 1982 to 1988. He was trained as an air traffic controller, but got heavily involved in the sport he excelled at and spent the last four years of his military career representing the U.S. Army in national and international wrestling competitions. He competed in four U.S. Olympic Trials and was an All-American at Oklahoma State University before embarking on his professional fighting career. He says the foundation is about giving back to those who have sacrificed for America.

"I was very fortunate, having been through that military experience and lived that life," Couture says. "Now, 20 years later, I have the opportunity to do appearances and give back. It's a chance to get involved and contribute to those soldiers who are putting it on the line."

To date, the foundation, which was formed primarily to raise money and awareness for those wounded in action and their families, has raised around $150,000 through events such as a 5K run and poker tournament. Many of the 24,000 wounded have suffered severely traumatic injuries such as gunshot wounds, burns and blast injuries, some resulting in amputations, and need the foundation's help, Couture says.

Through referrals from the military, the foundation has been able to assist to help prevent families of wounded soldiers from becoming homeless, paying bills for those who could not handle the extra expense of staying near their convalescing soldier and helping discharged soldiers start their lives back home. A big part of the funding also has gone toward purchasing special sports equipment and prosthesises for those who have disabilities and want to resume or take part in athletic activities.

"They kind of use athletics as a means to get themselves back into society and contributing," Couture says. "They could certainly find lots of excuses not to do those sorts of things."

The goal is to raise $90,000 through the golf tournament and weekend activities, he says.

Couture says he drew inspiration for the golf tournament when he participated in ex-New York Giants' defensive end Michael Strahan's golf event earlier this summer. Strahan's tournament, which was held in the New York City area, raises money for underprivileged children. Couture, who grew up playing a little golf in his hometown of Lynnwood, Wash., and once worked at a golf course, says, however, that it's not so much about the golf as it is about having fun and raising money for a good cause.

"I don't know if golf gets any better than it is in Las Vegas," Couture says. "Most people don't need a huge excuse to come to Vegas anyway. A chance to come support our soldiers, especially those troops coming back that have been wounded, is a pretty good cause."

Besides Randy and Kim Couture, committed celebrity guests include: Ken Casey, the lead singer and bass player for the Boston punk band "The Dropkick Murphys"; Pete Koller, guitar player for the legendary New York Hardcore band "Sick of it All"; UFC fighter Karo "The Heat" Parisyan, the No. 10 ranked welterweight in the world; singer, musician and comedian Bert Lynch; UFC fighter Stephen Bonner; world class welterweight John "The Natural" Alessio; and Winky Wright, the former light middleweight world champion and a current middleweight contender. An invitation to Strahan and several other celebrity friends such as actors Rob Schneider and Kevin James are also going out, Couture says.

Attendees also will have a chance to bid on an auction package that will allow full access to a private mixed martial arts session at the Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts Training Center in Las Vegas, where Couture still trains some two and a half hours each day with his fighters.

At age 45, Couture says he hopes to take on Russia's Fedor Emelianenko, who many consider to be the best heavyweight fighter in the world for the last five years. Couture, who has been in a legal dispute with the UFC, would like the fight to happen by the end of the year.

"The UFC is going to try to keep me from doing that," he says. "But I don't think they will be able to do that forever."

For more information on the golf tournament and weekend activities, call (702) 616-1022 or click here.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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