First Tee golfers hope to be pros someday
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Kendal and Nicholas Win scampered around the first fairway of the Meadows course at The Greenbrier resort Tuesday afternoon.
They had come to watch the annual junior clinic held on Old White during the days leading up to The Greenbrier Classic every year.
The brother and sister, who are 5 and 8 years old, want to become professional golfers. Nicholas Win, beaming broadly, announced that he hopes to play at a tournament like The Classic some day.
And wearing a miniature polo shirt, he looked the part. He and his sister blended into the sea of pastel polo shirts and shorts that overtook Old White on Tuesday afternoon.
The Wins are members of First Tee -- an international youth development organization that aims to build character through golf.
First Tee teaches young golfers about core values like perseverance, integrity, and respect, said Josh Bower, director of development for The First Tee of West Virginia. The program also teaches children to shake hands and other simple professional tactics, he added.
According to Bower, the program serves youngsters between 5 and 14 years old.
Proceeds from the junior clinic and a lunch held at The Greenbrier on Tuesday went to benefit First Tee. The organization also organized Tuesday's First Tee Scramble -- an annual event that pairs two First Tee players with a PGA professional to compete on three holes around Old White.
Four golfers -- Bailey Fredrick, Cam Moore, Meagan Board, and Ike Judy -- got to play on Old White during Tuesday afternoon's Scramble.
Fredrick, a high school sophomore, has been playing golf for years. Her father, a professional golfer, taught her about the game.
She beamed as she described why she enjoys playing golf.
"It's mentally tough," she said. "I like the challenge."
She said playing on Old White would be one of her proudest accomplishments.
Moore comes from Roane County. He has attended The Greenbrier Classic but has never played on the course.
On Tuesday morning, he seemed excited to play on the same turf that he has watched professional golfers trod for the last few years. He added that playing alongside a real PGA professional would be "pretty awesome."
Fredrick and Moore both said that they wanted to play college golf and might even pursue careers as professional golfers.
But the players noted that The First Tee has taught them more than just how to play the game.
"It taught me the honesty and basic integrity of the game," Fredrick said.
Moore agreed. As a golfer, one learns to be honest about a score and to treat opponents as fellow sportsmen, Moore said.
Judy concurred, and pointed out that golf has no referee. Thus, golfers have to be honest about the score and learn to trust fellow players.
The teenagers also noted that golf encourages independence.
Fredrick said that when she plays golf, she relies on only herself. She has come to love the feeling of self-sufficiency she gets when she plays golf.
Moore agreed. "It's just you out there," he said.
Judy echoed a similar thought. "You're your own person," he said.
"Not everything's going to be handed to you in life," Moore said. But Moore said the perseverance he has learned from First Tee would help him overcome any problems he encounters.
Reach Laura Reston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5100.