200 junior golfers came through my golf camps in the summer for eight years. My staff was awesome and we had a ton of fun with the kids, teaching them about the game, the rules, how to fix ball marks, hit bunker shots, on course competitions, lots of games. But the most important lessons we gave those weeks were the ones about life.
I’ve written before that golf was a lifeline to me when I was young. The game was a saving grace. A common thread to this though with golf is that while the game itself is the “vehicle”….there is almost always a mentor involved. I hope that my staff (Brian, Tim, Mark, Luke) and myself filled that roll as “mentor” for some in our junior clinics. I know I had mine when I was young. The one thing we always told the kids at the end of the week was, “You never know who you will meet on the golf course. Could be a teacher, the president of a college, a business owner, a new friend. Be open, be courteous, play by the rules, represent yourself well and be proud.”
The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia provides youth with educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.
I was fortunate to attend the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia 10th Anniversary Gala last Saturday night. Three days before that, I attended a practice round at the US Open. At both, I met people I would not have without a connection to the game of golf. I saw former President George W. Bush speak. I met Kathy and Charles on the driving range at Merion and we talked about our golf experiences for an hour. I had a nice chat with Ryan, a 21 year old junior at Penn State, on the golf team, and a Merion member. He was a marshall at the chipping area.
I met John Lupica, Chairman of ACE Insurance and John McDonald, Executive Director for the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia. These two gentlemen were instrumental in raising over $1M for the First Tee. They are making a difference in our community.
Most of all, I’m proud of my cousin Matt Lee, who is on the Board of Directors of the First Tee with John McDonald. Matt worked hard with John to make this Gala happen. And now, Matt and the Board have the responsibility to make an impact with the money that was raised.
Golf brings people together. To be mentors and teachers. To learn to play fair and play by the rules. To be polite. To be proud of yourself. To respect others. To respect the game.