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‘Giving Kids the Drive’

Third annual First Tee luncheon to support program.

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Jennifer and Jemies Saratis enjoy golfing with The First Tee.

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A golfer tees off in last year's The First Tee outing at TPC Avenel.

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Brandi Chastain putts in The First Tee event.

Thousands of children in Montgomery County have learned to play golf each summer through a junior golf program called The First Tee of Montgomery County. Through this organization, they gain more than learning to putt, chip and drive the ball. The program teaches and instills values that youth need to be successful in life — while teaching them a game that they can play their entire life. The mission of this nationwide organization is “to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”

The First Tee of Montgomery County benefits more than 500 Montgomery County youth who would not typically have access to the game and its opportunities. Young men and women, ages 8 - 17 are introduced to the fundamentals of golf, provided with equipment, clothing, lessons and the chance to play Montgomery County courses. They learn nine core values — respect, perseverance, honesty, integrity, courtesy, responsibility, sportsmanship, confidence and judgment — that will ensure their success in school and careers, with adults and friends. They are also introduced to nine healthy habits — energy, safety, play, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community — and taught The First Tee Code of Conduct. Another goal is to encourage girls to become involved in the world of sports.

To raise funds for its mission, The First Tee of Montgomery County will host a golf outing and luncheon on April 30, at TPC Avenel. Christine Brennan, award-winning sports columnist for USA Today, best-selling author and commentator, will be the keynote speaker. Brennan is the author of the book, “Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports.” NBC news national reporter, Lisa Myers will emcee the event.

Twelve-year-old Jennifer Saratis and 14-year-old Jemies Saratis have been involved with “The First Tee” for five years. Jemies explains the impact that the organization has had on her life: “I have met a lot of people and learned lessons that help me in life and in school. The game and the program have given me the confidence to try new things and take risks. Golf is really fun, too.”

Her sister Jennifer said, “I have learned the importance of honesty and treating other people with respect.” Both girls plan to continue playing golf.

Players in the golf outing will tee-off at 8:30 a.m. and play will include contests, prizes and gifts. The luncheon will begin at noon and will feature a silent auction filled with auction items such as golf for four at The Greenbrier Resort, a Chef’s Dinner for four with wine at Old Angler’s Inn, dinner for four at Hunter’s Inn, a complete seafood dinner from River Falls Seafood, “Member for a Day” at many local country clubs, Redskin tickets, spa days and more. A raffle will also be held for more prizes.

“Give Kids the Drive” by signing up for the 9-hole golf outing and luncheon ($200 per golfer) or for the luncheon ($100). To register for the event, to volunteer or to donate, go to www.thefirstteemcmd.org.