Golf Digest, a Trustee of First Tee, will contribute a total of $100,000 to the four chapters the winners represent through a renewed partnership kicking off this year
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and New York, N.Y. – (Nov. 1, 2023) – First Tee and Golf Digest are proud to announce the winners of the 2023 First Tee Awards Presented by Golf Digest. Since 1997, First Tee has grown into a preeminent youth development organization seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum. In 2022, First Tee impacted more than 3.4 million kids and teens, thanks largely to the dedication of more than 10,000 adults – volunteers, coaches, teachers, staff and board members – across its network. The First Tee Awards in Partnership with Golf Digest recognize the committed adults and chapters going above and beyond to support kids in their communities.
The winners of the 2023 First Tee Awards are:
First Tee – Greater Trenton (Barbara Douglas & Dr. William J. Powell Diversity Award)
This award recognizes the chapter that demonstrates outstanding commitment to promoting diversity at its chapter and in its community. More than 35% of First Tee – Greater Trenton’s participants are on scholarship, and 47% of participants are girls – one of the highest rates of female participation in the First Tee network. Nearly 70% of the chapter’s staff and board members, and 100% of the chapter’s executive committee, are ethnically diverse.
Ariel Brown, First Tee – Savannah (Teacher of the Year Award)
This award highlights an outstanding teacher who has gone above and beyond in delivering the First Tee School Program. Brown is a First Tee alumna and was the first volunteer coach at First Tee – Savannah when the chapter relaunched in summer 2021. Brown is an elementary teacher at a small Christian school in downtown Savannah founded and operated by her parents. The Title 1 school serves 100% minority students, and Brown offers First Tee programming there on Fridays.
Bill & Kim Allen, First Tee – Delaware (Tim Finchem Leadership Award)
This award recognizes an individual’s service, leadership and commitment to the mission of First Tee. The Allens operated a transitional school, where First Tee – Delaware offered weekly programming for more than 17 years. They have raised more than $200,000 in financial support for the chapter and have made important introductions on behalf of the chapter, bringing its current board chair, business leaders and standout participants into the fold.
Bob Sobecki, First Tee – Lake Erie (George H.W. Bush Volunteer of the Year Award)
This award recognizes a volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional service and commitment to First Tee. “He was here when we were a small chapter operating classes at public courses in rural Ohio. He was there when we were coaching classes behind schools with SNAG equipment to ensure we served our urban community. He was there when we opened our facility and began offering classes to more and more children in the greater Toledo area,” said First Tee – Lake Erie program director Alison Feehan.
The First Tee Awards are distributed annually, but this marks the first year Golf Digest has supported the initiative. Thanks to its generosity, each of the winning chapters will receive $25,000 to support their efforts.
“Our coaches, chapter staff, board members, teachers and volunteers are essential to the work of our organization,” said First Tee CEO Greg McLaughlin. “We are grateful to Golf Digest for helping us recognize their contributions in a meaningful way. Congratulations to our 2023 award winners and thank you for your dedication to First Tee and our mission.”
Golf Digest, a longtime supporter of First Tee, renewed its commitment to the organization in 2023.
“Golf Digest could not be more excited to support the First Tee in recognizing the people and chapters that are at the forefront of growing the game and building our next generation of Game Changers,” said Golf Digest’s General Manager, Chris Reynolds. “Congratulations to the 2023 award winners and thank you for your tireless commitment to the First Tee.”
About PGA TOUR First Tee Foundation (“First Tee”)
First Tee (www.firsttee.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization that is supported by the PGA TOUR. Its mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character and instill life-enhancing values through the game of golf. In 2022, First Tee celebrates its 25th anniversary and reaching millions of youth through its network of 150 chapters, 10,000 schools and 1,700 youth centers. Headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA, programs are delivered in all 50 United States and select international locations. President George W. Bush serves as Honorary Chair.
About Golf Digest
Golf Digest is the worldwide authority on how to play, what to play, and where to play. Golf Digest’s aim is to enhance the enjoyment of all facets of the game – making its readers better players, smarter consumers and more discerning travelers, while offering informative and provocative stories that fuel the unending conversation that is golf. Visit www.golfdigest.com.
Megan Hart, First Tee
Tony Morreale, WBD Sports – Golf Digest