Rob Riggle is a very funny man. He’s known for some of his over-the-top roles in “The Hangover,” “Step-Brothers” and his time as a “Daily Show” correspondent, among various other things. He is easily one of the more recognizable faces in comedy.
But what many people may not know is the incredibly charitable side of Riggle.
Riggle is a retired U.S. Marine who spent 23 years of service, enlisting in 1990 and retiring in 2023 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He served the first nine years in active duty and his final 14 in reserve. Like so many veterans, Riggle is passionate about giving back and helping fellow vets re-acclimate into society.
One such way he found to be successful in that endeavor was through the game of golf, which he was gracious enough to detail in an exclusive interview with Playing Through.
Semper Fi & America’s Fund
The Semper Fi & America’s Fund is closing in on its 20th anniversary next spring. Thus far, they have given more than $320 million in grants to support 31,000 combat-wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, and military families.
For the 12th consecutive year, PXG (Parsons Xtreme Golf) and The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation are partnering with Semper Fi through their PXG Double Down for Veterans match campaign.
Through the end of the year, every dollar raised up to $10 million PXG CEO Bob Parsons and his wife Renee will match through their campaign. If that goal is met, it will bring the total matched up to $100 million since the beginning of their partnership.
Riggle, a long-time proponent and close friend to PXG and Parsons, continues to be a vehicle through which the Foundation exhibits its heartfelt philanthropic undertakings.
PXG and Riggle sharing Semper Fi values
PXG Founder and CEO, Bob Parsons, is also a retired member of the United States Marine Corps.
Parsons enlisted in 1968 and soon thereafter, found himself taking part in the Vietnam War. He later became a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
Throughout his career, he has openly discussed the affects of PTSD from service, and has helped inspire so many to reach out for help. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, Parsons posted an inspirational, earnest message to veterans struggling with PTSD.
That is something that Riggle is equally passionate about. It was the perfect partnership.
“I was lucky enough to connect with PXG when they were starting out, a year or two after they launched. Over time, I got to know them and they got to know me. We just gravitated toward one another as far as our values and things we care about.”
“I really fell in love with PXG and Bob and Renee—their dedication to giving back to our service members.”
“I used to do a golf tournament called the InVETational Golf Classic. Bob and Renee used to match whatever I raised at my tournament. So, I always try to make myself available to what they are doing because I believe in what they are doing,” said Riggle.
The comedian went on to detail not only how he found the game of golf, but why it can be so beneficial to veterans.
Rob Riggle finds ‘The Greatest Game’
“I found an old set of Kenny Smith golf clubs hanging in my grandfather’s machine shed. They were bought back in the 50’s. They were these beautiful, wood, custom-made clubs… considered very high end golf clubs,” Riggle told Playing Through.
“I had an army bag of old golf balls and started whacking them out in the pasture—loved it! I was probably 12 years old. I hit that one magic 3-wood that went 200—maybe 210 [yards]. To me it felt like it was a moonshot and that was it. I was hooked for life,” Riggle said.
“I loved the game. I always loved it.”
The longtime comedian parlayed that passion and love for golf into experience on the course.
This past July, Riggle competed in his eighth American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry captured the win in epic fashion this year, sinking a lengthy downhill eagle putt on 18 Sunday.
American Century Investments, the 25-year title sponsor of the event, has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for the Stowers Institution as well as local charities in Southern California and Nevada.
Golf has always been a sport that breeds generosity and charitable ventures. But the sport, as the comedian explained, is also a great way to help veterans re-acclimate to society.
“I think there are ancillary benefits to the game of golf,” Riggle said.
“You have catastrophically wounded veterans… you have a lot of veterans that have wounds that you can’t see.
“A lot of our veterans are suffering from isolation. They don’t want to talk about their problems, burden other people with their problems, they feel a shame and feel like they should be able to handle their problems.”
“What happens is a lot of our veterans end up isolating, which is the worst thing they can do.”
But therein lies the connection I was after.
Riggle beautifully expressed why the sport of golf can help break that cycle of isolation and potential deepening depression.
“I think golf is a wonderful avenue to… be among friends, peers, even strangers that you are just meeting for the first time. It’s a wonderful social sport. It gets you out, it gets you talking, it gets you interacting, your body moving.
“Once you start playing it, you fall in love with the game. Especially if you hit that ball well once or twice, you’re going to be hooked.”
Anyone that plays golf knows that sentiment to be true. Beyond how golf helps vets in particular, the accessibility of the sport transcends.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl… young or old… it’s a sport that is available to everyone.”
“That’s why I love golf and I love it for the veteran community.”
Riggle, along with PXG, continue year after year to give back and help those in need.
Veterans Day is always a stark reminder of what those who served sacrificed for Americans to enjoy the civil liberties of today. Yet, those who served have often been overlooked in society and sometimes need help.
Learning what PXG, Riggle and others do for our veterans has been one of the more rewarding experiences of my career. I firmly believe that we all should be a little more like them and give back when we can, while enjoying the world’s greatest game.
If you would like to donate, you can do so at the Semper FI & America’s Fund site here.
Kendall Capps is the Senior Editor of SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms.