Jack Connelly, the longtime head professional at Huntingdon Valley Country Club and a self-described "military brat," urged his members to get involved in Patriot Golf Day, a one-day fund-raiser to support the families of veterans who had been killed or injured in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obviously, Connelly did a terrific job. The response from the Huntingdon Valley membership was beyond his wildest estimates.

According to figures released in the last week by the PGA of America, Huntingdon Valley raised $24,800 on Patriot Golf Day (Sept. 1), the most money contributed by any golf facility in the country.

The inaugural fund-raiser, jointly supported by the PGA and the U.S. Golf Association, took in more than $1.1 million nationwide for the Fallen Heroes Foundation. Public courses added $1 to greens fees on Sept. 1 for the cause; private clubs asked for donations.

Connelly said he received $10,000 from the foundation of one Huntingdon Valley member. Two more members gave $1,000, plus $1,000 each in matching funds from their companies.

"I was kind of pushing it, but the members really backed it," said Connelly, the head pro at the club for 34 years. "They really got behind this program. We had about 120 pledges, and that was really something. They were great."

Connelly, a past president of the PGA of America, served in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. His father spent 20 years in the Navy, so he has a special appreciation for the military.

"Being a military brat, what I say at every meeting is, 'If you see a military person in the airport, thank them,' " he said. "The wounded warriors coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan mean so much. We need to take care of the families of the military people who take care of us."

Patriot Golf Day next year will be held over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

Open changes.

Officials of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews have decided to lower the age of eligibility for past champions of the British Open from 65 to 60.

The R&A said those past champions currently between 60 and 65 will be eligible until age 65, but those currently under 60 will be eligible only until age 60.

Equipment retreat.

Tiger Woods said he wouldn't mind competing in a tournament where players would be playing with persimmon woods and balata golf balls.

"Any player who understands how to shape a golf ball, who can consistently hit the ball flush, you're going to want the ball to move more and the equipment to be less forgiving," Woods said a few days ago at the Target World Challenge. "It puts a premium on quality. There's a lot of guys that go out there that just hit it. When they mishit it, the golf balls and clubheads are so forgiving, the ball goes the same distance.

"Like my old persimmon driver that I grew up with, it's only maybe 15 yards behind my driver now. If I mishit it, it was like hitting a 3-iron. It goes nowhere. That's the biggest difference. You have to hit the ball flush, perfectly struck shots."

Woods added, "It would be fun to play a tournament that way," with persimmon and balata.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com