Alumnus Adam Addams: How The First Tee, Golf and STEM Intertwine

Adam Addams_1
The First Tee alumnus Adam Addams

Like many junior golfers, Adam Addams, an alumnus of The First Tee of Greater Chicago, loves math, loves golf and loves The First Tee.

Adam is combining his passions to advocate for The First Tee STEM Links--a new youth program that leads participants through experiments that align Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts with relevant golf experiences.

Below is Adam’s message about how The First Tee, math and golf are intertwined.

By Adam Addams, alumnus, The First Tee of Greater Chicago

At an early age I had a strong inclination towards math and competitive sports. Once I began learning and then playing golf, these aspects of my interests began coming together on the golf course.

I could see and feel the math in my head and in my instincts, even though I had no knowledge of the mathematical equations and formulas that could explain the shot or putt needed to successfully drop the ball into the hole. Computing forces, parabolic trajectory, distance, wind, bounce and spin all became a part of every shot. The mental stimulus became addicting.

Adam Addams_2Golf is about the details, sometimes a fraction of an inch or a degree can be the difference between a great shot and a bad one. When I started playing competitively in high school I looked for every edge through equipment as I could. I did tons of research in magazines, websites, forums–you name it–to determine exactly what I needed to improve my game. Then came the hard part, convincing my parents to purchase all of the expensive “solutions” to my game.

Looking back I can really see The First Tee’s fingerprints all over my success. Through The First Tee, I was a able to practice interviews and public speaking, at The First Tee Life Skills & Leadership Academy, The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, the qualifiers, and also when volunteering at my local chapter. I then used those skills to be able to persuade my parents into buying a particular club, shaft and grips for me–I even made a few PowerPoint presentations to support my case!

Adam Addams_3The First Tee and how they teach life skills, character development, and how to approach each golf shot (I still use the STAR method every day, Stop, Think, Anticipate, Respond) and the game of golf. Each shot in golf I learned to approach as a question on a test with wind, slope, speed, trajectory/path, spin, flex of the shaft, loft of the club, etc. as my variables. The First Tee helped me develop a golf equation, and I just had to assess the variables and react, and also how to react post shot whether good or bad.

The Nine Core Values, leadership workshops and lessons that The First Tee professes really paid off in my professional life. Countless times, even when I am dealing with a client from countries such as Japan, I recognize that I constantly use various lessons taught to me by The First Tee, especially when I have to convince a client to purchase what they need when they are solid on what they want. Those lessons played a crucial role in me developing the skills I needed to be in the career I am in today, Sales Engineer. It is eerie how similar my career is to what I used to do to when I was playing competitive golf and trying to get my parents to purchase equipment for me. Through The First Tee I have met so many sports and corporate dignitaries that I have learned to feel relaxed and even comfortable when I meet a high profile client.

Adam speaking at The First Tee 10th Anniversary Meeting.
Adam speaking at The First Tee 10th Anniversary Meeting.

Initially I thought The First Tee was just another golf program and would help assist me in being a star golfer, but in fact they were using golf as a vehicle to develop my personal skills as an individual and as a potential leader in my private and professional life.

Thanks to the generosity of The First Tee supporters, I was able to be a recipient of a scholarship in The First Tee Scholars Program. With the financial support of The First Tee, their donors and my parents (and some spiritual help), I had a dream realized–I graduated from the university of my choice, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

The First Tee has made a powerful impact upon my life and had prepared me for a world that I normally may not have had access to. I am so grateful and elated at what The First Tee has done for me. I am always reminded of the wealth of support that I have benefited from The First Tee and I know that I will never forget it.

Adam Addams
Metalex-Sales Engineer
B.S. Mechanical Engineering
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Alumnus
National Society of Black Engineers Alumnus
The First Tee Alumnus