Interesting timing: A former nuclear ballistic missile operator is playing in PGA Tour's CareerBuilder Challenge this week

January 15, 2018

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Ballistic missiles were featured prominently in the news over the weekend, the result of a false emergency alert sent out to those in Hawaii, including PGA Tour players there for the Sony Open in Hawaii.

So it seems a reasonable time to note that Tom Whitney, who knows more than most about ballistic missiles (those with nuclear warheads in particular), has received a sponsor’s exemption into the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., this week.

Whitney is an Air Force Academy graduate who, as previously reported here, “served four years as a Nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Operator at F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, WY,” according to his website. The job “placed him in command and control [of] our nation’s nuclear weapons, where he was in charge of coordinating routine and emergency maintenance, exercises, tests, inspections and, ultimately, launching the ICBMs under direction of the President.”

A La Quinta High graduate, Whitney last year told Desert Sun golf writer Larry Bohannan this:

“I was one of a two-man crew that sits in a harden bunker underground hooked up to our nuclear missiles,” Whitney said. “Our job would be to launch the missiles if we received the codes. The codes never came. Our day-to-day duties were routine maintenance, just day-to-day readiness.”

Whitney, 28, played the Tour last year, though was unable to secure a PGA Tour card, earning only $49,856 in 15 starts. He made his PGA Tour debut via a sponsor’s exemption in the Shriners Hospital for Children Open last October and missed the cut.