They call it a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, but at First Tee we like to create more than one opportunity that will last a lifetime. As the inaugural First Tee National Championship comes to a close, our 48 participants and their families are taking away memories they will be talking about for years to come.
Hosted at Clemson University’s The Walker Course, this event brought together 24 girls and 24 boys from 32 First Tee chapters across the country to showcase their golf skills and learn what it is like to play at a collegiate level. Our participants couldn’t have asked for a better week as Clemson’s beautiful weather and lakeside golf course views provided an enjoyable three days of tournament play. During the week, participants had the opportunity to hear from PGA Head Golf Professional Steve Scott on how his values intersected with his experience of finishing Runner-Up to Tiger Woods in the 1996 U.S. Amateur Championship. This interaction took place at the West Zone Club of Memorial Stadium as all 48 participant’s names were showcased on the field’s jumbotron. Participants also had the chance to hear from AJGA’s Lauren Shelley as she shared what it is like to start a career in the golf industry.
At the end of the week, only two participants walked away with a victory and the Tattersall Cup, but it wasn’t without determination.
Ashton Harper, a rising high school junior and a member of First Tee — Roanoke Valley won the boys’ division. He shot a 9-under (69-70-68) during the 54-hole event to win the event, but it took a birdie on the first hole of the playoff to clinch the victory.
“I’m pretty excited [About winning the First Tee National Championship]. I was very nervous and excited to have the opportunity to play in a playoff and the chance to win. I learned that I could shoot under par for 3 straight days and have my game where I want it to be. It was an enjoyable experience with great competition. Hopefully I will be able to come back next year.”
Symran Shah, a rising high school senior, is a member of First Tee — Greater Dallas. She shot a -2 (71-71-72) during the 54-hole event to win the event. Consistent throughout the tournament, Shah carded three birdies on the final back nine to pull herself away from the field and win by three strokes.
“I’m feeling so good. I don’t know how to put into words. I came here not expecting anything and after the first and second day co-leading, and going into today I just wanted to play my game. It was just a bonus I won!”
Ashton and Symran may have claimed victory but they weren’t the only game changers out on the course. Both the boys and girls divisions had incredible runners-up.
- Hunter Swanson, First Tee — Green Valley Ranch, also shot a 9-under during the 54-hole event but ultimately lost to Ashton during a playoff hole.
- Trenton Mierl, First Tee — Greater Austin, shot an 8-under
- Borina Sutiko, First Tee — Silicon Valley, shot 1-over
- Sophie Thai, First Tee — Silicon Valley, shot 1-over
- Hannah Lydic, First Tee — Delaware, shot 1-over
First Tee National Championship will be held annually at various college golf courses around the nation providing First Tee participants the opportunity to network with others and take in the college experience.
Thank you to Clemson University, Morell Studios, Arcoss Golf, Adidas and Bridestone Golf for helping make our inaugural event a success!