The First Tee of the Foothills

Which of The First Tee Nine Core Values has helped you the most on your personal journey to become a better student, citizen, golfer or better prepared for life?

Two years ago, my dreams for competitive golf were coming to an end. I had always felt like I was destined to play college golf, yet it seemed something as minute as a three-footer might derail that dream. Over the spring of 2017, as my ballstriking flourished, I developed the putting yips. As I stood over any putt, regardless of its distance, I would feel doubt that I wasn’t prepared enough to perform the task ahead of me. I knew that in order to fulfill my long-held goal, I needed to apply the Core Value of perseverance as I embarked on a journey of self-betterment in putting.

I tackled the yips through the use of a six-week program of taxing mental work, put together sports psychologist Josh Spell. Although not a First Tee graduate, Josh’s lessons feature many of the Core Values, like that of perseverance. It was hard to confront my problem at first, but I went about my putting practice with resolve, and saw drastic results. In the two years since, I have applied the Core Value of perseverance by working diligently on my putting, which has resulted in the fulfillment of my dream of playing college golf.

Which core value have you employed to help someone else achieve their goals?

Since The First Tee has been so impactful to me, I strive to give back to my chapter. Helping the younger students reach their goals is a uniquely satisfying experience. Recently, I have been relied upon by the Foothills chapter to coach classes as the students work to attain their goals. By expressing the Core Value of confidence to the students and teaching them to exude it, I think I have made a worthwhile impact on their lives.

Without confidence in everything one does, even the easiest tasks can become challenging. That was the situation in several First Tee classes for which I volunteered. Despite their strong golf game, several students were worried about the challenges of reaching the Birdie level. Realizing that I needed to change their view of themselves to elicit positive change, I demonstrated the power of affirmation. For several practices I repeated how well they were playing and that I had confidence in them. That affirmation helped change their view of themselves, giving them a new confidence to tackle the difficulties of the Birdie level. The result was Birdie status for all of them, showing that employing confidence in teaching can help anyone reach their goals.

Identify a lesson that you have learned from a mentor, peer or role model that you have translated into your daily life.

It is a common occurrence for golfers to have golfing role models; stories abound of the transformational experiences that occur during a meeting of the two. That was the case when I met my idol Arnold Palmer. In two short meetings “The King” left such an indelible mark on me that I still look back on the lessons that I learned from him.

Since I was born into a golfing family, I knew of Palmer’s graciousness and kindliness, and I finally got a chance to experience that one-on-one on May 4, 2011 at the Wells Fargo Championship. In a five minutes I will never forget, he made sure I felt at ease as he talked about my golf and goals. His desire to treat everyone as a valued individual has shaped my love of fundraising for causes such as the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. Two years later, at the Masters, Palmer personally brought me inside the ropes so I could talk to him. His class taught me to always treat people with dignity and respect. Though my two encounters with Arnold Palmer were brief, the person he showed himself to be shaped my thoughts and actions for a lifetime.