During the summer, if you visit the Montgomery County golf courses at Laytonsville, Needwood, Sligo, Northwest or Olney, you will see youngsters blasting balls from sand traps, laying into drives, trying to sink a long putt, or heading off to the tee box carrying their bags on their backs. These are just some of the youths in The First Tee summer program who are learning to play and love the game of golf but also gaining more in terms of personal growth and ethics.
The values they are taught will help in their success in school and careers as well as with adults and friends. As participant Madison Hartung said, “The First Tee teaches so many life skills that not only improve my game of golf, but also my game of life. I have been participating for seven years — and I am thankful for the support of the First Tee.”
The First Tee golf instructors and volunteers teach respect, perseverance, honesty, integrity, courtesy, responsibility, sportsmanship, confidence and judgment to more than 500 Montgomery County youth each summer. Young men and women, ages 8 – 17 who normally would not have access to the game and its opportunities are introduced to the fundamentals of golf, provided with equipment, clothing, lessons and the chance to play Montgomery County courses. Besides the nine core values, they learn nine healthy habits — energy, safety, play, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community — and are 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 its “Changing Lives Through Golf” Luncheon and 18-Hole Golf Outing on June 2 at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. PGA Professional golfer, Suzy Whaley will be the keynote speaker. Whaley was the first woman in 58 years to qualify for a PGA Tour event, following the legendary Babe Zaharias, the only other woman to have ever achieved the rare golf feat. She was also the first woman to win a PGA individual professional tournament.
Whaley earned her LPGA Tour status immediately after completing college at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She played on the LPGA Tour for two years before starting a family. She currently teaches the game at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., as the director of instruction of Suzy Whaley Golf. She is recognized by “Golf for Women” as a top 50 female instructor, by “Golf Digest,” as a Top 50 teacher, and was two-time PGA Teacher of the Year honoree for the Connecticut PGA Section. She recently finished her term on the National PGA of America Board.
Laura Sildon, executive director of The First Tee, Montgomery County said, "This ladies event not only is a fun day of food and golf but an opportunity to network and learn about the many accomplishments of other women on and off the golf course."
The honorary chairwoman of the event will be Christine Brennan and Leon Harris of ABC 7/WJLA will emcee. The luncheon and raffle and silent/live auctions will begin at 11:30 a.m. with the golf outing beginning at 2 p.m. Lunch is $100 and lunch and golf are $250. Prizes will be awarded and raffle and silent/live auction items will be featured.
“Forty-two percent of our participants are girls so this event is a chance to encourage women to get involved as volunteers, mentors and philanthropists. The more women involved with the organization, the more the girls can benefit," Sildon said.
Residents can support the program by donating slightly used golf equipment and clothing, by volunteering, by signing up to attend the luncheon — or by attending the luncheon and playing in the 18-hole golf outing. To register, go to www.thefirstteemcmd.org or call 240-447-4646.