First Tee — San Diego Provided Opportunities for Personal Growth and Transformation for Alumnus Miguel Martinez

Categories: Blog, Character Education

USGA’s support of First Tee, and chapters like First Tee — San Diego, will continue in 2021 with a focus on inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility initiatives

Miguel Martinez joined First Tee – San Diego (known locally as Pro Kids, First Tee – San Diego) in the seventh grade. He was struggling academically and describes himself during that time as “an energetic, talkative kid who lacked the virtues of giving respect.”

His mom, Maricuz, was seeking a safe and supportive environment for Miguel and his younger brother Sammy. First Tee — San Diego was her answer.

In his first couple of years, Miguel’s academics fluctuated but as his interest in golf and his commitment to the game increased, eventually so did his grades. By the time he was entering high school, Miguel had become one of the most regularly attending participants and his positive attitude became contagious.

“I think the most impressive change was his newfound confidence,” says his First Tee coach and mentor Kevin Sheriff. “He realized he could play varsity golf and battle his way through any adversity he might face.”

Miguel now balances his time as a full-time college student at MiraCosta Community College completing his general education courses, while working at Emerald Isle Golf Course in Oceanside.  He plans to volunteer with First Tee — San Diego this summer.

“First Tee has been a game changer in his life because he was given so many great opportunities,” says Miracuz. “Not only did I see him become someone responsible but someone who is disciplined and hardworking.”

Coach Kevin adds, “The best thing about Miguel is his character.  He’s always checking in on people, asking them how they’re doing, wondering what he can do to help them.  It wouldn’t matter where you came from or what you looked like; Miguel treats everyone with respect.”

Empowering participants like Miguel is only possible with the support of partners who stand behind our mission.  In 2020, First Tee — San Diego was one 51 First Tee chapters to receive funding from USGA to support their ongoing commitment to making the game more accessible and welcoming for kids and teens. This funding came at a critical time to ensure doors could remain open and programs could modify to a safe environment.

This week, golf’s greatest players descend on San Diego to compete in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. USGA is continuing their support of First Tee announcing new funding in 2021 to help expand national and chapter initiatives focused on inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.  In addition, USGA is hosting local participants throughout the week for a variety of experiences including clinics and meet and greets for select participants to witness the championship first hand.

The USGA’s commitment to investing in First Tee over the years continues to have a lasting impact on the game, as well as countless young people in communities across our country. With support from partners like USGA, First Tee is offering a meaningful and positive experience through golf that helps young people uncover who they are and grow personally.

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