When Finnegan Shea asked his parents to teach him to play golf, his father had to admit that he was neither a teacher or coach. While searching for private golf lessons for Finnegan, the Shea family soon discovered the costs associated with golf. However, one day, while Finnegan’s mother, Dani Shea, was looking through the Vandenberg Space Force Base community page, she saw a posting about First Tee – Central Coast and learned that all the fees to teach Finnegan would be covered. She signed Finnegan up.
Vandenberg Air Space Base is one of the locations with First Tee programming provided by First Tee – Central Coast that serves thousands of military children and their families over the years. The Shea family, which now includes Finnegan’s younger sister Pippa, recently began their third session with First Tee – Central Coast for the summer. Both Finnegan and Pippa look forward to going to the course each week and they aren’t just learning about golf. They truly are learning about themselves.
Coach Terri Benson, who works closely with the military families at First Tee – Central Coast, teaches them about safety and awareness of themselves and their surroundings and respecting those around them. She also talks to them about integrity, which is one of many lessons the military children can apply one and off the course.
“Service men and women give so much for this country and so do their families. Military families, and more specifically military children, are wonderfully resilient. They take on new experiences and challenges with each relocation and that can be difficult,” said Mrs. Shea. “First Tee welcoming military families with such open arms is amazing. I do believe that the lessons that are fostered through the fun of learning golf positively serve all the kids. First Tee isn’t just golf lessons one or two days a week. There’s a community there…We are truly thankful to be a part of it.”
First Tee – Central Coast is dedicated to the success of its participants even once they no longer live on the Vandenberg Air Space Base. When participants have family members that are deployed or relocated, First Tee – Central Coast works with other chapters in the network to ensure that they can continue programming at another First Tee location no matter where they are in the world.
This is all made possible with support from dedicated partners like TaylorMade Golf Company. In 2021, TaylorMade expanded their investment with First Tee to reach the children of active military personnel and veterans. They recognize the important role the military, veterans and their families play in our nation. In an ongoing effort to recognize the service and sacrifice of our military personnel and their families, they support organizations nationwide, like First Tee, that are working hard to create opportunities for the military community.
“Because TaylorMade has supported our chapter, we can continue to positively impact these military families in a safe environment with trained coaches while providing equipment and lessons,” said Coach Terri.
As First Tee celebrates 25 years of empowering youth through golf, we recognize our longstanding partners who share a commitment to our mission. For the last two decades, TaylorMade has provided resources and access to equipment that have helped thousands of young golfers on their journey to develop their character while learning the game.
“Being in the San Diego region, TaylorMade has close ties to the many military families who make up our employee base and our community,” said David Abeles, President and CEO of TaylorMade. “We’re pleased to play a role in helping families in our backyard and elsewhere stay connected to the great game of golf no matter where their service takes them.”
With the support of TaylorMade, First Tee – Central Coast has had the chance to expose these military families to the life lessons that come from the game of golf and help build a support system for military kids and their families with others who have similar backgrounds, as well as with nonmilitary families.