From walking scoring to standard bearer to parking and transportation, Jolie Venable has volunteered in just about every role at Korn Ferry Tour events – including the Simmons Bank Open, the Visit Knoxville Open and the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
The First Tee – Tennessee alumna and Ace graduate got involved with the Tour through her First Tee chapter and made the most of the opportunity. “I’ve really enjoyed all the different jobs I’ve done at tournaments,” she said.
Jolie began participating in First Tee when she was 9 and said it was the coaches who kept her engaged with the program, “They’re very enthusiastic, caring and passionate about getting kids into golf, especially girls who don’t necessarily feel like they have a place in the sport.”
Jolie stuck with First Tee as she got older, eventually joining the Ace Program, its capstone program for high schoolers. Ace is designed to help teens game-plan for the future by encouraging them to explore their passions on and off the golf course. Ace participants complete four projects focused on education, career preparation, golf and community service.
The community service piece was Jolie’s favorite part, she said. Not only did she volunteer at tournaments, but she jumped into new opportunities when her family moved to Panama City, Florida, about three years ago.
Jolie asked around about a local First Tee chapter after the move but learned there was no programming in the area after Hurricane Michael devastated the region in 2018. But she happened to be volunteering at a golf event with veterans last year when she overheard a fateful conversation.
“We were at Bay Point Golf Course, and I overheard Tommy Cooley come in and mention First Tee. I popped my head in and asked the manager about the conversation, and it turns out Tommy was trying to get First Tee started there,” Jolie said. “I got in contact with Tommy, who had brought Nature Walk Golf Course on board, and he offered me a position.”
Now a First Tee alumna, Jolie is lead coach at First Tee – Gulf Coast’s Panama City program location. She recruits new coaches and teaches kids. “I just love seeing the kids light up when they see something new,” she said.
In addition to her work, Jolie is studying physical therapy. “Around fourth grade, I was diagnosed with hearing loss in my right ear, and I got really interested in the medical field. I really love helping people, and this will give me an opportunity to work with other athletes,” she explained. She’s also launching a nonprofit that will provide hearing devices for families who can’t afford them.
First Tee – Gulf Coast now serves kids from South Alabama through Panama City. “Golf has given so much to me, and I am delighted the same opportunities will be provided to future generations in Bay County,” Cooley said.
Learn more about the Ace Program.