PGA TOUR Professional Austin Smotherman Joins First Tee as an Official Ambassador

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL., (July 12, 2022) – PGA TOUR professional and First Tee alumnus Austin Smotherman has been named an official ambassador of First Tee. A Loomis, Calif. native, Smotherman participated in the Greater Sacramento chapter from age seven until 18 and developed his golf game and character during his time in the program. As an ambassador, Smotherman will showcase his involvement with the youth development organization and the impact it has on his life to help inspire the next generation.

Smotherman is debuting the First Tee logo on his bag this week during the Barracuda Championship in support of the program and its mission to empower kids and teens to build their strength of character through golf. As an ambassador, he will also give his time to meet with participants, donors, and chapter leadership to inspire more support of its mission and participation of the program.

“I’m honored to take on this role as First Tee Ambassador,” said Smotherman. “Looking back at my time as a participant, I really value the balance of developing my character while I was also developing my golf swing. Those experiences and the skills I acquired helped shape who I am as a person and now as a professional athlete. They still guide me today as I navigate the ups and downs of this game that I love.”

“On behalf of the PGA TOUR, congratulations to Austin Smotherman on today’s announcement regarding his new role as official ambassador of First Tee,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “Competing on the PGA TOUR requires hard work and perseverance and his story and the character strengths he developed during his time in First Tee will help inspire many kids and teens as they explore the many opportunities golf can provide. Austin paying it forward is another example of what makes the PGA TOUR – and our members  – so special.”

During his time in First Tee, Smotherman progressed through the program, transitioning from a participant to a junior coach and mentor to the younger kids. In 2009 and 2010 he played in the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting First Tee and in 2011 he earned First Tee – Greater Sacramento’s Core Value Award.

In 2016, he graduated from Southern Methodist University where he played on the men’s golf team. After competing for two seasons on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica (2017 –2018) he transitioned to the Korn Ferry Tour (2019-2021) until he earned his PGA TOUR card in August 2021. Smotherman is the third First Tee alum, following Scott Langley (retired) and Cameron Champ, to achieve this milestone.

“We are proud to welcome Austin as our First Tee ambassador,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “This is a special moment as we celebrate our 25th anniversary and the lasting impact we are having on youth and alumni across the country as they pursue their careers and passions, both on and off the golf course.  His commitment to giving back and dedication to living out his values is an inspiration and will impact many lives.”

Launching in 1997, First Tee is celebrating 25 years of enabling kids to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges. By seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, First Tee creates active learning experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence and resilience that kids can carry to everything they do. These character education programs are offered at golf courses, schools and youth centers in all 50 states and at six international locations.

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.  

Contacts:
Sara Henika
[email protected]
(904)881-7398

78 First Tee Teens Selected for PGA TOUR Champions’ PURE Insurance Championship Impacting First Tee at Pebble Beach

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Golf Channel’s Damon Hack, and PGA TOUR players, including First Tee alum Austin Smotherman and Cameron Champ, surprise teens with an invitation to the event

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2022) – First Tee and PGA TOUR Champions announced today the 78 First Tee participants selected to play in the 2022 PURE Insurance Championship Impacting First Tee. The event, in its 19th year, will bring teens from First Tee chapters to Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course for the PGA TOUR Champions tournament, Sept. 20-25. The annual event, hosted by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, is televised internationally on Golf Channel. 

Throughout the week, the teens apply their character strengths and the life skills learned from First Tee programs during the one-of-a-kind event where they are paired with a PGA TOUR Champions player and amateurs from the business world. Ranging in ages from 14 to 18, the First Tee participants compete for the Pro-Junior Team title. The teens represent 52 First Tee chapters from across the country and – for the second year in a row – a participant from First Tee — Morocco will be in the field. Participants were selected by a national panel of judges based on their personal growth and development through First Tee’s programs, as well as their playing ability. 

The full junior field was revealed live on Golf Channel’s “Golf Today” with host Damon Hack surprising Diego Ocasio from First Tee – Metropolitan New York with the news of his selection. In addition, several players and legends of the game helped surprise select participants leading up to the full field announcement, including World Golf Hall of Fame Member Jack Nicklaus, PGA TOUR players Stewart Cink, Cameron Champ and Austin Smotherman, PGA TOUR Champions players Ken Duke and Larry Mize and No. 1 APGA Collegiate Player and Duke University stand-out Quinn Riley.  

In addition to the surprises, Bryson Hughes of First Tee – North Florida and Francesca Sumcad of First Tee – Silicon Valley each earned exemptions this month during the First Tee National Championship.  

“Congratulations to the 78 participants who have been selected to play and represent First Tee on a national stage,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “This is a special year as First Tee celebrates our 25th anniversary of empowering youth and providing opportunities like the PURE Insurance Championship for participants to take their First Tee experience to the next level and explore the possibilities in golf and beyond.  Thank you to our partners − PURE Insurance, PGA TOUR Champions, Pebble Beach Resorts, Monterey Peninsula Foundation and Golf Channel − for their commitment to young people and helping us provide this opportunity to these deserving teens.” 

This year’s field of PGA TOUR Champions players will feature World Golf Hall of Fame Members Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh, as well as three-time PURE Insurance Championship winners Kirk Triplett and KJ Choi, who will defend his title. Clint Eastwood serves as chairman of the PURE Insurance Championship.  

Play will be conducted on Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course on Friday and Saturday. The final round will be contested solely at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday, where 23 First Tee juniors will compete based on their 36-hole performance. The tournament will crown one male and one female First Tee Junior Champion on Sunday.  

More than 1,000 teens from First Tee have played in the PURE Insurance Championship, experiencing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet, play and be mentored by PGA TOUR Champions players and amateurs.  

“Supporting these incredible young men and women along with the great work of First Tee through this sponsorship is tremendously rewarding for our entire team,” said Katie Krum, Chief Marketing Officer at PURE Insurance. “I know firsthand the impact and value that participating in youth sports can have on one’s development, personally and professionally, so I am particularly proud to be part of an organization that lends support to such a worthy cause.” 

First Tee is a youth development organization that teaches life skills and helps kids and teens build their strength of character through golf. The PURE Insurance Championship is one of several national opportunities provided by First Tee Headquarters to encourage and motivate participants as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities.  

The junior field for 2022 PURE Insurance Championship can be viewed here.  

For more information on the tournament, visit PUREInsuranceChampionship.com. To learn more about First Tee, visit FirstTee.org.  

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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 Monterey Peninsula Foundation 

Monterey Peninsula Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization which donates funds from the proceeds of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA TOUR and the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting the First Tee, a PGA TOUR Champions tournament. The Foundation focuses on improving the quality of life in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties.  

www.attpbgolf.com 

www.pureinsurancechampionship.com  

About PURE Insurance 

Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) Insurance is a property and casualty insurance company designed exclusively for successful, responsible families. We opened for business more than 15 years ago with the goal of offering something different in the insurance space: a company focused on doing what’s right for our membership (policyholders), one that promotes transparency and alignment of interests, and delivers greater value. 

Today, after growing at least 15% in each year since we began, we are the most awarded insurer in our category, offer coverage in all 50 states that includes high value homeowners, automobile, collections, watercraft, personal excess liability, fraud & cyber and flood to a membership of more than 100,000 individuals and families. 
 
Pureinsurance.com | 888.813.7873 

About PGA TOUR Champions 

PGA TOUR Champions is a membership organization of professional golfers age 50 and older, including 34 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The Tour’s mission is to provide financial opportunities for its players, entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back and generate significant charitable and economic impact in tournament communities. Follow PGA TOUR Champions online at PGATOUR.com, at facebook.com/PGATOURChampions, on Twitter @ChampionsTour and on Instagram @pgatourchampions. 

All events are televised in the United States, with most receiving complete coverage on Golf Channel, the exclusive cable-television partner of PGA TOUR Champions. Tournament programming is available via 25+ TV linear partners in 145+ countries and territories, with 25 channels carrying long-form and/or highlights coverage, and 200+ hours of live coverage distributed in 135+ countries and territories. Programming is also available via the OTT platform GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR in every market outside of the United States, excluding China and Korea, with live coverage distributed in 130+ countries and territories. 

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TaylorMade’s Support Brings Life Skills and Golf to Military Families in Central California

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.

48 Teens to Compete in First Tee’s National Championship

Winner of Girls’ and Boys’ Divisions earn spot into PURE Insurance Championship Impacting First Tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links in September 

South Bend, Indiana – (June 22, 2022) – First Tee will host48 of its teenage participants at the second annual First Tee National Championship at the University of Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course, June 27 – July 1. The 54-hole event brings together First Tee’s elite golfers for an opportunity to showcase how the program has helped build the strength of character needed to play at the collegiate or next level.

The field includes 24 boys and 24 girls, ages 14-18, who were selected based on their golf skills and competitive golf experience. The participants have spent an average of eight years in the program and represent 28 First Tee chapters across the country. Four players in the field are ranked on the American Junior Golf Association and Junior Golf Scoreboard Top 250, including Symran Shah from First Tee – Greater Dallas, who will be returning to defend her National Championship Girls’ Division title.

Top-ranked junior golfers in the field:

  • Hunter Swanson, First Tee — Green Valley Ranch:
    • Finished tied for 2nd in the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve, Westminster, CO., Jun 6-9, 2022
    • Competed in the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur at The Country Club of North Carolina, July 19-24, 2021
    • Ranked 90th on AJGA / 93rd on JGS
    • Letter of intent: University of Colorado
  • Sophie Thai, First Tee — Silicon Valley:
    • Won the AJGA Se Ri Pak Desert Junior in Rancho at Mission Hills Country Club, Mirage, Calif, June 14-17
    • Ranked 196 on AJGA / 135 on JGS
    • Letter of intent: Dartmouth College
  • Hannah Lydic, First Tee — Delaware:
    • Ranked 210 on AJGA / 181 on JGS
    • Verbal intent: University of Richmond
  • Symran Shah, First Tee — Greater Dallas:
    • Inaugural Winner of 2021 First Tee National Championship Girls Division held at Clemson University
    • Ranked 246 on AJGA / 178 on JGS
    • Letter of intent: Virginia Tech

In addition, Matthew French from First Tee — North Florida recently qualified for the 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, Ore. July 25-30.

View the full list of selected participants here.

“Congratulations to each of the participants in the field,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “We look forward to hosting them at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course, a tremendous venue that provides our participants the opportunity to explore what their future may look like as they consider college and potential plans to pursue competitive golf beyond high school. A special thanks to our long-time Trustee Fred Tattersall for his commitment to our mission and for providing meaningful national opportunities like the First Tee National Championship.”

The winners of each girls’ and boys’ divisions will be awarded with the Tattersall Cup and will earn an exemption, if eligible, into the PGA TOUR Champions’ PURE Insurance Championship Impacting First Tee held at Pebble Beach Golf Links September 20-25, 2022.

During the week, participants will have the opportunity to hear from PGA Head Golf Professional Steve Scott on what it means to be a game-changer and how his values intersected with his experience of finishing runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1996 U.S. Amateur Championship.

First Tee National Championship is held annually at various college campuses around the nation, providing First Tee participants the opportunity to network with others from across the country and take in the college experience. The Championship is one of more than 10 national opportunities provided by First Tee headquarters to empower and motivate teens as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities. For more information on the tournament and First Tee, visit www.firsttee.org. 

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. 

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MEDIA CONTACT:  

Sara Henika, First Tee  
SaraHenika[email protected]   
904-881-7398 

USGA and First Tee Reach 25 Years of Partnership and Shared Commitment to Empowering Youth Through Golf

USGA recognizes the partnership during the 122nd U.S. Open, awarding $25,000 to First Tee – Massachusetts and hosting First Tee’s Game Changer Pavilion

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. and BROOKLINE, Mass. (June 15, 2022) – A founding partner of First Tee, the USGA has extended its 25-year support of the youth development organization and will be highlighted this week during the 122nd U.S. Open in Brookline, Mass. As part of the USGA’s ongoing commitment to growing a more welcoming golf community, the USGA has awarded $25,000 to First Tee  — Massachusetts through their IDEA Grant and is hosting the First Tee Game Changers Pavilion, with support from Sentry, as part of the U.S. Open Junior Experience at Fisher Hill Reservoir Park.

Launched in 2021, the USGA IDEA Grant program is part of a broader effort to directly empower programs that foster inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility at the local level, particularly in its championship host communities and for programs delivered through its Allied Golf Association network in every state. Since the program’s inception, the USGA has allocated nearly half a million dollars toward the effort.

First Tee — Massachusetts plans to direct its efforts on expanding its character-building programs in underserved communities and diversifying coaching staff to better match the demographics of the population it serves. Additionally, financial aid programs, free transportation and new program locations in Springfield and Worcester supported by the 2022 IDEA grant will help to ensure more youth can learn the game and grow from the experiences. First Tee — Massachusetts is proudly supported by Mass Golf, an Allied Golf Association, and its community of over 100,000 members and 340 member clubs.

“We are committed to investing in local communities that serve as incredible hosts for our championships, as a way to help advance the game.” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA. “First Tee Massachusetts is breaking down barriers to participation in this community, and it’s the kind of change we want to make golf more accessible and encourage more youth to pick up the game.”

The USGA and First Tee are also partnering on this year’s U.S. Open Junior Experience at Fisher Hill Reservoir Park – offering the community a family-friendly experience. With support from Sentry, the experience features the First Tee Game Changers Pavilion, a space that brings to life what it means to be a game-changer and helps connect youth to the excitement and personal impact associated with golf and First Tee programs offered throughout the country. The Pavilion will be open from Wednesday, June 15 to Saturday, June 18. The junior experience is free of charge and First Tee representatives and participants will be on hand inviting community members to engage in a series of interactive golf-themed activities and enjoy the thrill of a major championship in a publicly accessible space. As a First Tee Trustee, Sentry’s support of the Game Changers Pavilion is an extension of their commitment to helping further First Tee’s mission.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022, First Tee offers programs in all 50 states and select international locations seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum that empowers youth to build their inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience. Serving more than 30,000 individuals annually, First Tee — Massachusetts offers seven programs across the state, including three in the Boston area.

“Empowering youth through the game of golf has been at the core of First Tee’s mission since 1997,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “Thanks to the ongoing support of the USGA, we are continuously opening doors in the local golf community and introducing new golfers to the game and our character-building programs.”

To celebrate the USGA’s investment in the local community, USGA Executive Committee member Cathy Engelbert presented First Tee with a check during a pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park this Tuesday. First Tee — Massachusetts Director of Operations Kyle Harris accepted the grant, along with McLaughlin.

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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. 

Contact:  

Sara Henika, First Tee 
[email protected] 
(904) 881-7398

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25 Exemplary High School Seniors Selected into First Tee College Scholarship Program in honor of 25th Anniversary

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (June 8, 2022) – Twenty-five high school graduates have been selected to the First Tee College Scholarship Program. This is the largest class to date and a significant milestone as the youth development organization celebrates 25 years of helping young people build their strength of character through golf. The Scholars Class of 2022 includes aspiring physicians, computer scientists and lawyers, all of whom will be attending standout colleges and universities, including Harvard University, New York University and Columbia University.

Selected from a national pool of First Tee teens, the diverse group of Scholars – 15 young women and 10 young men – are from both urban and rural communities across the United States. Nine of the Scholars will play on their college’s golf team; several are heading into STEM, business, and medical fields; and many already have impressive plans for careers that will support underrepresented and underserved populations.

“I offer congratulations and a warm welcome to our Class of 2022 First Tee Scholars,” said Greg McLaughlin, CEO of First Tee. “With the support of our donors, we’re able to provide this ongoing support as they matriculate through college and prepare for future careers. These outstanding young leaders have bright futures ahead, and we believe the skills and values developed through First Tee will empower them throughout their collegiate journey and beyond.”

First Tee College Scholarship Program extends its impact to alumni by providing support throughout their post-graduate careers. Each of the Scholars is paired with a dedicated, trained adult mentor who will help encourage and guide them throughout their college experience, including virtual and in-person meetups. The program also provides professional development workshops held in-person throughout the year, and up to $5,000 per year toward tuition.

The program, which re-launched in 2020, is an evolution from the First Tee Scholars Program established in 2003. The program began after participant Steven Outlaw gave a moving speech in 2001 at the age of 16 and was provided an impromptu scholarship from a generous donor. Two years later, Outlaw graduated high school and was part of the inaugural First Tee Scholars Class.  Since 2003, First Tee headquarters and its chapter network have awarded more than $15 million in college scholarships to alumni.

Applications for the Class of 2022 were received from participants across the First Tee network. Following an online application process, finalists were selected by a committee for one-on-one interviews. In addition to academic performance, applicants were considered based on financial need, chapter involvement, volunteerism, and other criteria.

First Tee College Scholarship Program is made possible by donors and corporate partners who stand behind the program and First Tee’s mission, including 3M, A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Astros Golf Foundation, Brendan and Shay Cavanagh, Charles Schwab, Chevron Corporation, David and Geri Epstein Private Foundation, Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund, Edward and Lisa Vaughan, Jon Clay, Nelson and Michele Carbonell Family Foundation, Paul and Ruth Flowers, Peter A. Bonanni Scholarship Fund, PURE Insurance, Timothy W. Finchem Scholarship Fund, TruGreen, USSGA Memorial Fund, and Zotec Foundation.

First Tee College Scholarship Class of 2022:
Average GPA: 4.1 on a 4.0 scale
Average SAT score: 1,470 out of 1,600
Average ACT score: 31 out of 36

Breonna Boyd, First Tee — Tennessee
University of Michigan; Major: Business Administration
Breonna plans to start a nonprofit that will provide natural hair care products to African American girls who need them.

Nicholas Canales, First Tee — Greater Houston
University of Nebraska; Major: Business Management
Nicholas is a first-generation college student and will play on the men’s golf team.

Antonio DelCastillo, First Tee — Orange County
University of Alabama; Major: Pre-Med
Pursuing a career as either a neuro-orthopedic surgeon or anesthesiologist.

Srishti Dhurandhar, First Tee — Metropolitan New York
New York University; Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Srishti will play on the women’s golf team under the leadership of her former First Tee coach and NYU head coach, Katie Rudolph.

Vivian D’Orazi, First Tee — Metropolitan New York                          
York College of Pennsylvania; Major: Marketing; Minor: Hospitality Management
Vivian will play on the women’s golf team and aspires to work in the golf industry post-graduation.

Dylan Ebs, First Tee — Greater Austin
George Washington University; Major: Journalism
Dylan plans to pursue his goal of becoming a political reporter in Washington, D.C.

Esther Etherington, First Tee — Indiana
Franklin College; Major: Elementary Education
Esther will play on the women’s golf team and plans to later receive a Master’s degree in Special Education.

Maleyna Gregorio, First Tee — Coachella Valley
University of California Riverside; Major: Business
Maleyna will play on the women’s golf team and aspires to work in the golf industry.  

Raiyan Johnson, First Tee — Savannah
Georgia Institute of Technology; Major: Astrophysics
Raiyan will pursue her goal to become an astrophysicist and ultimately an astronaut.

Lea Han, First Tee — Greater Sacramento
Harvard University; Major: History
Lea plans to become either an immigration or civil rights lawyer and pursue her passion for social justice.

Zara Karim, First Tee — Greater Washington, D.C.
George Mason University; Major: Computer Science
Graduating with 4.5 GPA, Zara aspires to become a computer scientist or software engineer.

Nelia Leong, First Tee — Upstate South Carolina
University of Florida; Major: Public Health
Nelia will be pursuing the pre-dentistry track with plans to use her degree to have her own pediatric dentistry practice.

Myles Manor, First Tee — Greater Washington, D.C.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Major: Chemistry
Myles has a desire to bring interest and awareness to STEM careers in his community.

Abigale Morris, First Tee — Phoenix
Biola University; Major: Cinematography
Abigale will play on the women’s golf team. She aspires to own a film company that provides film and media for nonprofits.

Hannah Newell, First Tee — Greater Houston
LeTourneau University; Major: Chemical Engineering
Hannah will play on the women’s golf team while working toward her goal of building a career in chemical engineering.

Sabrina Poole, First Tee — Greater Seattle
St. Martin’s University; Major: Psychology
Sabrina will play on the women’s golf team. Her future aspirations include helping high school and college student-athletes with mental and psychological struggles or crises as a clinical psychologist.

Nancy Rivera, First Tee — Silicon Valley
Middlebury College Vermont; Major: Pre-Med
Nancy wants to be the voice for Latinx families who have had limited representation in the medical field. She plans on becoming an OB-GYN.

Ahmad Raoul, First Tee — Greater Chicago
Winston-Salem State University; Major: Computer Science
While playing on the men’s golf team and majoring in computer science, Ahmad plans to leverage his STEM knowledge to further his passion for golf and improve his golf performance.

Daniel Sears, First Tee — Massachusetts                                             
Franciscan University of Steubenville; Major: Philosophy and Finance
Daniel plans on a career in either real estate or law. 

Connor Shooks, First Tee — Benton Harbor
Loyola University Chicago; Major: Sports Management
Connor aspires to either be an athletic trainer or physical therapist.

Kenneth Treece, First Tee — Pine Mountain
University of Alabama; Major: Aerospace Engineering and Political Science
Obtaining a 35 out of 36 on the ACT, Kenneth has plans to become a public defense attorney.

Alexa Vela, First Tee — Greater Houston
Rice University; Major: Psychology and Pre-Law
Alexa aspires to become a lawyer to grant the underrepresented the opportunity to recognize their constitutional rights and the powers granted to them by their government.

Jaylon Wilson, First Tee — Metro Atlanta
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Major: Finance
With plans to become a financial advisor, Jaylon aspires to serve the African American community through providing financial literacy, specifically to athletes and musicians.

Iris Xue, First Tee — Greater Washington, D.C.
Columbia University; Major: Computer Science and Engineering
Iris hopes to one day build artificial intelligence models that tackle healthcare challenges, such as disease modeling and disease prevention.

Jacob Zakaria, First Tee — Central Coast
University of California Berkeley; Major: Biology
Inspired by his father’s family being raised in a war-struck refugee camp in Lebanon without access to healthcare, Jacob plans on becoming a medical doctor.

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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.

Contacts:
Sara Henika
First Tee
[email protected]

First Tee Empowers 24 Teenage Girls through Week-long Academy made possible by John Deere

The national event, “Drive Your Future,” held in San Francisco, June 6-10, reinforces the organization’s commitment to empowering girls 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 1, 2022 – Twenty-four girls, ages 15-18, from First Tee chapters across the country are attending the John Deere Drive Your Future Academy in San Francisco, June 6-10. The all-girls professional development academy is hosted by First Tee and John Deere and focuses on empowering the girls to leverage opportunities available through their participation in golf and First Tee, and recognize the importance of building a strong network. 

Throughout the week-long academy the girls will participate in interactive workshops and hear from keynote speakers, including retired Rear Admiral and First Tee Board Member, Marty Evans, on a variety of topics designed to inspire and help them as they plan for the future.  In addition, they’ll play golf at the Olympic Club Ocean Course where they will build upon their connections with other participants from around the country and hear different perspectives from their peers. The participants will stay in dorms and experience a college campus at San Francisco State University.

The event reinforces First Tee’s commitment to empowering girls through its programs, which are offered through 150 chapters in 1400 golf course locations. More than 80% of chapters offer dedicated programming for girls, intentionally inviting and engaging them in a variety of opportunities. Girls who stay in First Tee programs have the opportunity to apply for all national events, including Drive Your Future.

“At John Deere, we run so life can leap forward,” said John Watson, John Deere, First Tee Manager. “That includes partnering with organizations like First Tee to provide life-changing opportunities for today’s youth. It is an honor to celebrate our 5th anniversary of the Drive Your Future academy and we are thrilled to help develop the leaders of tomorrow.” 

The teens were selected for the Drive Your Future Academy through a national application process based on essays, letters of recommendation, and involvement in First Tee and other activities. 

John Deere is a Trustee of First Tee and has supported the organization since 2012.

First Tee is a youth development organization celebrating 25 years of teaching life skills and helping kids and teens build their strength of character through golf. The John Deere Drive Your Future Academy is one of several national opportunities provided by First Tee Headquarters to encourage and motivate participants as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities.  

For more information, visit FirstTee.org.  

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. 

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MEDIA CONTACT:  

Aaliyah Jones, First Tee  
[email protected]  
(904) 490-7899 ext 7899

Gallagher Becomes Trustee of First Tee Supporting Character-Building Programs for Participants and Alumni

Gallagher’s contributions to First Tee build on a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and support for empowering young people

PONTE VEDRA, FL. and ROLLING MEADOWS, ILL., May 24, 2022 First Tee®, a youth development organization that helps kids and teens build their strength of character through golf, and Gallagher, a global leader in insurance, risk management and consulting services, are launching a multi-year partnership.  As a Trustee of First Tee, Gallagher’s investment will further First Tee’s ability to expand programs, especially in underserved and underrepresented chapter communities, as well as empower alumni as they pursue and grow in their careers.

“Gallagher is proud to get behind First Tee’s mission to empower children and teens through golf,” said Christopher Mead, Gallagher’s Chief Marketing Officer. “The partnership between our organizations shares The Gallagher Way core tenets of supporting, believing, acknowledging and respecting the abilities of one another. We are excited to become a First Tee Trustee and continue putting those values into action.”

The partnership is launching on the heels of First Tee – Greater Chicago’s Golf Day, a local event held at Gallagher Way adjacent to Wrigley Field. The community event provided kids and families the opportunity to experience golf and First Tee through fun, hands-on activities. First Tee – Greater Chicago will be one of several First Tee chapters to benefit from local grants provided by Gallagher.

This fall, First Tee will host an Alumni Summit presented by Gallagher in Dallas, Nov. 16-19. The Alumni Summit will bring together alumni from across the network to further their personal and professional development as they pursue their career goals and as they become leaders in their communities. Gallagher’s support will continue through 2026 with national and regional alumni opportunities happening annually. 

“With the support of partners like Gallagher, First Tee is able to further our programs that empower young people to have the self-confidence to take on new challenges and opportunities,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “The impact of this partnership will be long lasting as we’re able to extend our support to alumni as well as reach more young people in chapter communities.”

Launching in 1997, First Tee is celebrating 25 years of enabling kids to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges. By seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, First Tee creates active learning experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence and resilience that kids can carry to everything they do. These character education programs are offered at golf courses, schools and youth centers in all 50 states and at six international locations.

To learn more about First Tee, please visit https://firsttee.org/.

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 Gallagher

Gallagher is one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting firms. As a community insurance broker and trusted local consultant, we help people and businesses move forward with confidence. With more than 39,000 people working around the globe, we’re connected to the places where we do business and to every community we call home. Managing risk with customized solutions and a full spectrum of services, helping you foster a thriving workforce, and always holding ourselves to the highest standards of ethics to help you face every challenge—that’s The Gallagher Way.

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MEDIA CONTACT:  

Sara Henika, First Tee  
[email protected]   
904-881-7398 

Sara Carlson, Gallagher
[email protected]
630-605-6935

First Tee Represented by Six Junior Golfers Competing in Drive, Chip and Putt Finals

Many dream of competing at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament. Six First Tee participants will be in the field of 80 junior golfers who earned invitations to compete in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. The competition takes place the Sunday before the start of the Masters Tournament and is broadcast live by Golf Channel. 

We are proud of our six participants competing as finalists, and to watch as they apply the life skills and character values they developed during their time at First Tee as they compete on the national stage.

Meet our participants: 

Paul Ancona of First Tee – Gulf Coast

  • Paul will compete in the Boys 12-13 division at DCP.
  • He became first involved with First Tee through First Tee – Richmond at the age of eight.
  • Paul has played mini-golf with Bubba Watson, and beat him.
  • His favorite sports outside of the game of golf are football and hockey.
  • He aspires to either be a PGA TOUR player or PGA professional.

Kaylie Bae of First Tee – Greater Portland

  • Kaylie will compete in the Girls 7-9 division at DCP.
  • She has been involved with First Tee for two years.
  • She won the Drive, Chip, Putt regional qualifier at Pebble Beach, 2021 OGA Majors Tournament, and the 8-year-old division for the US Kids Golf Tour.
  • When she’s not golfing, Kaylie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, taking piano lessons and playing games.
  • She aspires to receive a scholarship to attend Oregon State, become a LPGA golfer and an artist, and own a beach house.

Lyla Hawker of First Tee – Augusta

  • Lyla will compete in the Girls 7-9 division at DCP.
  • She has been involved with First Tee for 18 months.
  • During her very first golf class at First Tee – Augusta, on her first swing, she hit a hole-in-one!
  • In all three rounds to qualify for the DCP finals, Lyla won the putting competition for her age group.
  • Her favorite sport outside of golf is tennis. Lyla enjoys musical theater, crafting, reading and rollerblading.

Jessica Hoerr of First Tee – Phoenix

  • Jessica will compete in the Girls 7-9 division at DCP.
  • She has been involved with First Tee for three years.
  • She has achieved a score of 33 for nine holes.
  • Off the course, Jessica is on an impact-level 3 gymnastics team, which involves 12 hours of practice per week.
  • She enjoys art and drawing flowers.
  • Jessica enjoys weather and would like to be a meteorologist when she grows up.

Jay Nergard of First Tee – Phoenix

  • Jay will compete in the Boys 14-15 division at DCP.
  • He has been involved with First Tee for eight years.
  • At First Tee – Phoenix, he has raised money for Birdies for Charity and participated in 100 Putt-Putt-A-Thon. Jay volunteers at the chapter as a junior coach teaching life skills and golf to younger participants.
  • Jay is a member of the robotics and aeronautics club at his high school.
  • He is a Karate black belt and enjoys playing piano.
  • Jay desires to attend a highly accredited school of engineering to study computer science and robotics.

Lincoln Trasamar of First Tee – South Dakota

  • Lincoln will compete in the Boys 7-9 division at DCP.
  • Lincoln got involved with First Tee in 2021.
  • Lincoln made his first hole in one on September 16th, 2020.
  • Lincoln enjoys playing golf and practice putting and chipping, playing basketball, watching all sports, reading, traveling, geography and watching Wheel of Fortune.
  • His family are friends with PGA TOUR Champions golfer, Jerry Kelly. Lincoln has played with him on numerous occasions.

Qualifying for the National Finals is not easy. By tapping the creative and competitive spirit of girls and boys ages 7-15, Drive, Chip and Putt provides aspiring junior golfers an opportunity to play with their peers in qualifiers around the country. The road to Augusta began with local qualifying events last summer held at more than 250 sites across the country. The top three scorers per venue advanced to 50 subregional qualifiers. Two juniors in each age and gender division then competed at the regional level. The top finisher from each regional site’s age and gender divisions – a total of 80 finalists – earned a place in the National Finals.

First Tee Celebrates 25 Years of Building Game Changers

Since launching in 1997, the youth development organization has expanded its programs and impact in all 50 states and select international locations

Next up: modernization of the program experience, a focus on teens, leveraging technology and expanding access to programs

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (February 23, 2022) − For 25 years, First Tee has used golf to teach lessons about life. This week, the youth development organization is kicking off its 25th anniversary with the first of many alumni features and a new anniversary storytelling hub on firsttee.org.

Since launching in 1997, First Tee has grown to a network of nearly 150 chapters with programs delivered at 1,400 golf courses, 10,000 schools and 1,700 youth centers in all 50 states and select international locations, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Morocco. The impact is deep and far-reaching. In 2021, First Tee impacted more than 2.2 million kids and teens. Additionally, more than 10,000 adults are involved each year in support of First Tee’s mission, many of which have participated in First Tee’s signature positive youth development trainings. 

“There is little doubt that First Tee has grown significantly and had an indelible impact on millions of young people during the last 25 years,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “I am inspired by the dedicated leaders at our chapters, and by the volunteers, donors, team members and partners across the network who show their commitment to our mission each day.”

“We are grateful for the vision of my predecessor, Tim Finchem, and for his leadership in creating First Tee in 1997,” said Jay Monahan, PGA TOUR Commissioner and Chair, First Tee Board of Governors. “Congratulations and thank you to all who have played an essential part in growing First Tee and contributing to the many transformational and inspiring stories we’ve seen over the last 25 years. Just as importantly, we’re extremely excited about the path and trajectory of the program going forward as the next chapter in First Tee begins.”

First Tee is in the midst of a multi-year re-investment to modernize and enhance the organization. It completed its first-ever brand refresh in 2020 and is underway with a robust curriculum evolution to better position the organization to reach teens and keep kids engaged in the program longer. First Tee remains committed to breaking down barriers that keep kids and families from feeling like they belong and is actively working to reach underserved and underrepresented areas of the communities our chapters serve.

Dr. Amber Hardeman is the first of several alumni to be featured in conjunction with the anniversary. Not only does Amber have an incredible work ethic and multiple degrees, but she has made it her life’s mission to support under-resourced populations with her career in medicine. Her journey can, in large part, be traced back to her time with First Tee. Joining First Tee — Greater Dallas in 2005, she gained dozens of opportunities and advanced her golf game, but more importantly, she developed her character and values that continue to guide her today.

First Tee officially launched on November 13, 1997 with an announcement in New York City’s Central Park. It all started with a vision: Make golf more accessible. It was under the leadership of former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, with the support of the major golf organizations – Augusta National, LPGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and USGA – that First Tee was created.

To learn more about First Tee, its impact and future vision, please visit:

A press kit with fact sheet, alumni stories, anniversary logo, photos and video is available here.  

Charles Schwab Extends His Support of First Tee’s Character-Building Programs with New Matching Grant Program for Chapters

Phoenix, Ariz. (November 11, 2021) – As First Tee approaches the 25th anniversary milestone, Charles R. Schwab has committed transformational support through a new Charles Schwab Challenge Grant. Schwab is the Chairman and founder of the eponymous wealth management firm that has carried his name for almost five decades. The $25 million grant will provide up to a $1 match for every $2 donated to First Tee Chapters by individuals, corporations and foundations now through 2026. This Grant program will provide First Tee Chapters the opportunity to significantly grow and deepen their impact over the next several years.

“I believe in the power of investing to help individuals create a better tomorrow,” said Charles R. Schwab. “That’s why I am investing in First Tee. I believe in this organization’s mission and the power of the First Tee Chapters to continue changing the game for young people for years to come.”

“As we approach our 25th anniversary, it’s a great time for us to reflect on the successes of the past as well as look ahead, focusing on what is needed to leave an even greater impression on the next generation,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “This grant program is only possible because of the leadership and commitment of Charles Schwab.  We are grateful for his support and the lasting impact it will have on the young people and the communities we serve.”

Charles Schwab Grant Program benefiting First Tee Chapters kicks off this week in conjunction with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the final event on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule. Held at Phoenix Country Club, First Tee — Phoenix participants Abi Morris and Jake Walden played alongside Charles Schwab and Phil Mickelson in the Wednesday pro-am.

L to R: Rick Wurster, President, The Charles Schwab Corporation and Head of Schwab Asset Management Solutions, Jake Walden, First Tee – Phoenix participant, World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, Frank Herringer, Director, Charles Schwab, Charles R. Schwab, Abi Morris, First Tee – Phoenix participant.

Next year, First Tee will celebrate 25 years of providing programs that teach life skills and help kids and teens build their strength of character through golf. Impacting more than 3.7 million youth annually, programs are delivered at First Tee Chapters, schools and youth centers across the country and select international locations.

First Tee Teens Commit to Implementing Community Service Projects and Healthcare Advocacy during Innovators Forum

Earlier this month, twenty-eight First Tee participants attended the First Tee’s Innovators Forum in San Jose, California, where they participated in interactive workshops and heard from global leaders on a variety of topics including education, sustainability and healthcare advocacy. During their time there, they created a community service project plan to execute in the next eight months. First Tee Trustee, CapTech, was there to assist them in their creation of the service project through their creativity, innovation and goal development session.

Of the twenty-eight participants, two First Tee participants from Seattle and San Jose, Calif. were selected to receive a $10,000 educational stipend to support their continuing education for their intentional and innovative commitment to community service.

Austin Picinich from First Tee – Greater Seattle is a 16-year-old junior at Juanita High School. He is creating a community mural that educates visitors on the salmon life cycle and about the history of Juanita Creek, a creek where the salmon population has declined to nearly zero due to the pollution. Austin plans to partner with Urban Artworks to engage community members and provide them with a unique opportunity to become ambassadors for Juanita Creek. Ultimately, Austin desires to contribute funds to conservation groups assisting with making Juanita Creek healthy again.

Nancy Rivera from First Tee – Silicon Valley is a 17-year-old senior at University Preparatory Academy and is set to be a first-generation high school graduate. Through her service project, she plans to provide educational support for bilingual families that will be offered in accessible community areas. The workshops will be offered in Spanish and include resources on how to effectively communicate and support their child as they pursue post-secondary education, such as how to sign into school websites, how to navigate online resources, and more.

“We are proud of all of the teens that attended the First Tee Innovators Forum, and especially Austin and Nancy.” said Greg McLaughlin, CEO of First Tee. “Their commitment to their communities is impressive and we look forward to watching them grow as leaders and game changers as they implement these important initiatives.”

Six additional First Tee participants are receiving $2,000 towards continuing their education, bringing the total amount awarded to $32,000.

The Innovators Forum is one of several national opportunities provided by First Tee Headquarters to encourage and motivate participants as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities. Find a chapter near you to learn more and get involved.