How Golf Made a Difference for Young Somalian Refugee

At The First Tee, golf is more than just a game; golf is a life-changer. Muya Muya is no exception. Born into a civil war, Muya and his family fled from Somalia to Kenya where they spent the first seven years of his life in a refugee camp before moving to the United States. Arriving in San Diego, Muya entered second grade knowing nothing of American culture or English. But after an introduction to The First Tee of San Diego, he learned far beyond the basics of a golf swing. “When Muya first started, he thought golf was too difficult,” said Andrew Holets, chief executive of The First Tee of San Diego. “He was much more interested in playing soccer!” With encouragement from the program’s staff, Muya eventually became more involved in playing golf. He is very thankful that he did. Receiving professional golf coaching, academic assistance and mentorship, the chapter put Muya on track to become an accomplished golfer playing on the varsity golf team in high school. The chapter also sponsored him as he played against elite young golfers in the San Diego Junior Golf Association. Muya will tell you, with a smile on his face, that he beat quite a few of them. An intelligent and kind-hearted young man, Muya started pursuing opportunities for his life outside of The First Tee. From connections at the chapter, he acquired an internship at Qualcomm, a wireless technology company, and a scholarship. He is now pursuing a business marketing degree at San Diego City College. But Muya’s success doesn’t stop there. As a college student, he has created a partnership and started an internet business in which is expected to continue after graduation. Now an alumnus of The First Tee, Muya is still sponsored and supported by the chapter. Often times you will see him out on the driving range or putting green, sporting his signature red sweater, volunteering and teaching younger participants as they reach for their own success. If you ask Muya what motivated him in his experiences, he would say, “I understood what I wanted to do with my life. I came here to gain opportunity and I didn’t want to waste any of it.”

Get Involved at The First Tee

Are you looking for a program where your child can receive valuable lessons, set goals, and become their best selves? With more than 1,200 locations, The First Tee uses golf to teach youth ages 7 to 18 life lessons and leadership skills. No previous golf experience is needed and scholarships are available! Join The First Tee and see how, just like Muya, golf can make a difference. Learn More

6 Ways to Get Noticed by a College Golf Coach

TD Luten_headshot
T.D. Luten, current assistant coach for the Duke University Men’s Golf Team; executive director at The First Tee of the Triangle from 2005–2012
Playing golf, or any sport, at the college level is competitive. What does it take to get noticed by a college golf coach? T.D. Luten, the assistant coach for the Duke University Men’s Golf Team and past executive director at The First Tee of the Triangle (2005–2012), shares his thoughts on how junior golfers can get noticed at the college level.
In the four seasons that I’ve been coaching the Duke Men’s Golf Team, I have seen it all from recruits who want us to notice them:
  • hand-written letters
  • CDs
  • YouTube videos
  • phone calls from crying parents
  • surprise visits during team practice
  • calls from alumni who swear their friend’s child is the next ‘can’t miss kid’…
I think you get the picture. Basically, the majority of emails and phone calls that I receive are from junior golfers who, unfortunately, don’t have the grades or the game to play on our team. That said, I would like to share a few pointer to find out if a collegiate golf coach might be interested in adding you to their roster.

6 ways to get noticed by a college coach:

#1 visit the university, Independent of the golf coach

Take an official tour of the campus offered by the admissions department. Two to three weeks before you get there, ask the golf coach if you can meet for 30 minutes during your visit. This approach shows us that you are seriously considering the university as a whole to make sure it is a good fit for you.

#2 Create a 2-page resume that includes:

  • your namestudying
  • parents’ names
  • address
  • phone numbers
  • name of your home course
  • your instructor’s contact information
  • name of your high school
  • your golf coach’s contact information
  • your cumulative GPA
  • any AP classes that you have taken
  • a list of ALL of your tournament scores over the past year
  • any awards that you have received
  • your list of community oriented activities outside of your church, high school and golf

#3 send a brief, personalized email To the Coach

The email should explain your interest in the college golf program and at that time you can attach your resume. If the coach responds positively, let them know you will be updating them on your grades and upcoming tournament scores. You can even add a list of your upcoming tournaments in case they would like to see you play.

#4 Once you have begun the recruiting process, be aware that you are being watched

It is our job to find out as much about you as possible and we will call tournament directors, rules officials, other parents, etc. to find out as much about your character as possible. A good way to think of a coaches’ perspective is that we want to see how you handle your ‘off’ days more than how you handle your good days. The recruit who has the mindset and maturity to conduct themselves evenly on good days and bad ones will almost always be chosen over the recruit whose confidence rises and falls based on what they shoot.
Duke University golfer with T.D.
Duke University golfer Adam Wood with T.D. Courtesy: Duke Photography

#5 Have a plan and a go-to-shot for those days where you just don’t “have it.”

What I am saying is, work on making your bad golf days better. I am writing this post on a plane from our last event in Texas and, boy…would I have loved to have our guys save a few shots on the day or days that they didn’t have their ‘A’ games! If you are able to rely on a shot shape and control the distance of your shot of your ‘off’ days, you are an asset to that coach’s program and they will notice when they watch you play.

#6 Keep Your Composure

One of my close friends in coaching shared this with me over the summer and I’ll leave you with it:

If you really think about it, golf is a game of adversity. The ball will always find its way to its lowest possible point, meaning, it will roll into the sand trap and probably into a rake-mark, it will find the lone divot in the fairway, it will spin off the false-front of a green, it will come to rest not just in the rough but all the way at the bottom of the rough, it will hit the flagstick on a perfectly struck shot and ricochet to who knows where! How you respond to those events during a round of golf will determine your potential and we are always, ALWAYS in search of recruits who can keep their composure through adversity.

Just remember, we want hard-working, appreciative, disciplined student-athletes. If that’s you, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for your future goals and ability level. Good luck (and Go Duke)!
Last year, more than 525 alumni of The First Tee went on to play college golf. Our program helps prepare junior golfers for playing at a higher level through the life skills they learn (like how to set goals, manage emotions and more) as well as providing national events like the College Golf Prep Academy. Learn how to get your child involved in The First Tee near you.

Alumnus Talks Careers in the Golf Industry

Written by: Darius Davis Alumnus, The First Tee of East Lake

Darius Davis, Student, PGA Golf Management Program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore 
Darius Davis, Student, PGA Golf Management Program (PGM) at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore
At The First Tee, we make sure to tell our participants that if they want to work in the golf industry one day, there are a variety of careers that may appeal to them that don’t involve turning pro. A popular career option for our junior golfers is enrolling in one of the 19 PGA of America accredited golf course management programs. We asked Darius Davis, alumnus from The First Tee of East Lake, who is currently enrolled in the PGA Professional Golf Management Program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), to find out more about this career path.

1) What interests you about golf course management?

The business side of the golf industry contains more of the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to successfully operate a PGA golf event. It also exemplifies how to succeed in a powerful private golf membership program. That’s what caught my attention. As a result, I decided major in Professional Golf Management and minor in business.

2) Did experiences at The First Tee influence you in deciding to pursue golf course management?

The First Tee was 100% responsible for my deciding to pursue golf course management. I joined The First Tee of East Lake (Atlanta, GA) after my father passed away when I was 12 years old. I was in need of guidance, wisdom and comfort, which my chapter family provided. Throughout my time as a participant, I learned life skills and golf skills which helped me embark on a path for a better and brighter future. As a result, I use the life and golf skills every day. I know that these skills will help me operate a successful golf facility or youth development golf program. After graduating with my PGM degree, I hope to go back to a chapter of The First Tee as a coach or executive director.
Darius hits an opening drive on the first tee during the first round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, the final event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, at East Lake Golf Club on September 20, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Darius hits an opening drive on the first tee during the first round of the 2012 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

3) What was the ultimate factor in deciding to enroll in the PGM program at UMES?

The ultimate factor in deciding on the PGM career path took place my senior year of high school. After hitting the ceremonial tee shot to kick off the 2012 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club, I was presented with a special offer from Dr. Malachi Knowles, CEO and founder of the African American Collegiate & Youth Golfers Hall of Fame. I was offered a full scholarship (shortly after being inducted into the African American Collegiate & Youth Golfers Hall of Fame), to attend UMES and major in Professional Golf Management.

4) let’s talk internships.

I loved my internship at Wade Hampton Golf Club! The PGA of America requires that all PGA Golf Management Program students complete at least 16 months of cooperative internships prior to graduation. A co-op internship means that I stop taking classes to work full-time. My internship has provided me with practical experience, such as learning about turf management, working in the pro shop, helping run tournaments, learning about scheduling, working in customer service and much more.

5) Do you have any advice for future alumni of The First Tee about pursuing a PGM degree?

I only have one piece of advice for a future alumni of The First Tee about pursuing a degree through the PGM program—make sure you have a passion to grow the game of golf!

Most people think majoring in PGM only offers a small amount of golf outlets in the industry. This is definitely not the case at all. While there are several hundred players making a living playing golf, there are more than 28,000 men and women who belong to the PGA of America. My (soon-to-be) fellow PGA professionals are head golf professionals at private, public or municipal golf courses, run golf courses, manage tournaments, run golf shops, manage customer’s golf outings, coaches at The First Tee and professional golf instructors.

Always keep your business options open because you never know what networking opportunities you can make while going through the PGM program.

6) Which life skill do you still use?

Ultimately, I use the Meet & Greet life skill the most because I come in contact with so many people on a day-to-day basis. Because of what I learned at The First Tee, I have a set foundation of the specific process of meeting and greeting. This includes: looking the person in the eye, a firm handshake, stating my name clearly and making a lasting first impression! Meeting and greeting goes such a long way in the golf industry.

7) Are you still connected to your chapter?

I am still very well connected to my chapter. I am constantly in contact with the chapter’s executive director, Nyre Williams, and Coach Jeff Dunovant (PGA Member/Head Pro at Charlie Yates Golf Course). I strive every day to have a successful future and set the footprints to follow throughout my program. I know there are hundreds of participants looking up to me from my chapter, from a role-model perspective, so I want them to recognize that “if I can make it/achieve, they can do it too”!


Beginning in 2017, Wade Hampton Golf Club will offer special consideration to PGM internship applicants who are alumni from The First Tee!

The First Tee of East Lake alums Darius Davis and Simone Obleton pose with defending 2014 FedEx Cup Champion Billy Horschel during the FedExCup Media Tour on August 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
The First Tee of East Lake alums Darius Davis and Simone Obleton pose with defending 2014 FedEx Cup Champion Billy Horschel during the FedEx Cup Media Tour on August 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

9 Ways Alumni Can Reconnect to The First Tee

By Brandon Luna Senior Coordinator, Participant Opportunities The First Tee home office

Many of The First Tee alumni credit the program with improving their golf skills while also helping to prepare them life beyond high school, based on new research. If you’re like many alumni across the country, you may be looking for ways to give back or reconnect with the organization that has given you so much.

Paying it forward with your time, wisdom or money will connect you to a powerful network and enhance the future of The First Tee’s next generation—and that is no small thing!

Here are nine ways alumni can reconnect to The First Tee:

Resize_Christopher Hawkins, Georgetown College President Crouch and Steven Outlaw1. Be a Leader

Apply your leadership skills learned at The First Tee and contact a chapter to see how you could communicate and engage with other alumni and community leaders.

2. Lend a Helping Hand

Chapters always need volunteers to work at events, assist with photography, videography or social media. Remember, giving your time is just as valuable as making a monetary donation!

3. Find Employment

Chapters can be a great resource if you are you seeking an internship or employment in the golf industry. Your chapter may have openings available or they can assist you in finding a job within your community.

4. Inspire

No matter where you are in life, there are junior golfers who can benefit from your experience and advice as an alumni. Offer to sit on a panel during an open house event, give a presentation about your college/professional experience at the chapter or volunteer to speak to a class.

5. Mentor

Think about how much mentors have meant to you throughout your life. By becoming a mentor at The First Tee, you can set a positive example by modeling behaviors and attitudes that reinforce positive values.

6. Share Your Story

Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., chief executive officer of The First Tee, reconnects with The First Tee of Greater Austin alumni Preston Schaub (L) and Ryan Thill (R)
Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., chief executive officer of The First Tee, reconnects with The First Tee of Greater Austin alumni Preston Schaub (L) and Ryan Thill (R)
Be sure to let your home chapter know about your successes and how The First Tee has influenced your development. Submit a story »

7. Coach

Did you know that in less than two hours you can become a certified assistant coach by simply completing an eLearning course? Assistant coaches are crucial for chapters to deliver Life Skills Experience classes and to positively impact junior golfers in the community.

8. Stay Connected

Take advantage of the great opportunities that The First Tee Alumni Network has to offer! Stay connected and informed by joining The First Tee Alumni Network and The First Tee Alumni Network on LinkedIn.

9. Donate

OK, this one will cost you something—but not as much as you think. You can do more good than you might realize by giving up a few Starbucks orders a year and sending a gift to your local chapter. The number nine is pretty unique to The First Tee (Nine Core Values, Nine Healthy Habits and Nine Golf Fundamentals). A great idea would be to donate $9 to a chapter this year. Your donations will make a positive impact in your community.

Want to do more?

Challenge 10 of your fellow alumni to commit to the same amount to their local chapter! Paying it forward will connect you back to a powerful network and enhance the future of the next generation—and that is no small thing! If you are no longer near your home chapter, look online to see if there is a chapter in your current location…they will welcome you with open arms! Find a Chapter 

How Did You Spend Your Summer? Alumna Tezira Abe Was Interning at Golf Channel!

The First Tee alumna Tezira Abe
The First Tee alumna and guest blogger, Tezira Abe
Golf Channel, The First Tee’s proud media partner, has given three alumni of The First Tee a unique opportunity this summer…a 12-week internship at the Golf Channel studios in Orlando! The program allows these junior golfers to gain first-hand experience while developing work samples for their personal portfolio. Applicants are required to have been former participants of The First Tee program, enrolled as a junior or senior in college, pursuing a career in marketing, communications or journalism and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The three junior golfers that make up the class of The First Tee Golf Channel interns are: Timothy Briones, programming; Zack Waxler, marketing; and Tezira Abe, digital operations. Tezira shares how The First Tee helped prepare her for this exciting experience. Continue reading “How Did You Spend Your Summer? Alumna Tezira Abe Was Interning at Golf Channel!”

The First Tee Alumnus Takes on Golf Channel's Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL

claymyers“Professionals show up every day.” “Do not fear what they fear.” “Golf is a game of integrity.” “Persistence can change failure.” These are the words written across Clay Myers’ white board, standing front and center of his small Orlando apartment. The pursuit to play professional golf is one of hard work, discipline and perseverance, but Myers isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. His hard work is finally paying off as this alumnus from The First Tee of Memphis takes on Golf Channel’s reality series, Big Break The Palm Beaches FL. Continue reading “The First Tee Alumnus Takes on Golf Channel's Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL”