First Tee celebrates anniversary

05/10/2014 11:52 PM

05/10/2014 11:53 PM

Nearing its 10th birthday, the First Tee of Columbia will stage an appreciation reception Wednesday at the James Clyburn Golf Center, and advisory board chairman Tony Cooper says the local chapter has plenty to celebrate.

“We want to say ‘thank you’ to those who have made a commitment to this program, and it’s a program that works,” said Cooper, an official with the South Carolina Education Lottery. “We want everyone – volunteers, coaches, parents and sponsors – to know their contributions are appreciated.”

Golf’s governing bodies launched The First Tee, an initiative of the World Golf Foundation, in 1997, and the Columbia chapter joined the program in October of 2004. City of Columbia officials sought new opportunities of area youth, and the response has been positive.

Joe Beaman, who is director of both the golf center and the First Tee of Columbia, said 83 new youngsters have joined in recent months.

“We teach them more than about the game of golf,” Cooper said. “We teach them about life” and cited such values as integrity, respect and perseverance

Indeed, the Columbia organization’s mission statement focused on “providing educational programs that build character, teach viable life skill and promote healthy habits and choices through the game of golf.”

“We’re open to all the youngsters in the area, and we have programs for various age-groups from all backgrounds,” Cooper said. “The program is all about the kids, and our goal now is to take the First Tee of Columbia to a higher level.”

Cooper pointed to a recent four-year study of the First Tee nation-wide that found 73 percent of the youngsters remained in the program for four years. The same study, he said, contained more data that illustrates how First Tee is able to transfer valuable skills from the golf course to the lives of young people.

Wednesday’s program runs from 5:30-7 p.m. Volunteers, coaches and sponsors will be recognized, participants’ accomplishments will be honored and a golf exhibition is planned.

Chip shots

Golden Hills pro Steve Larick won the Carolinas Open, beating amateur Scott Harvey on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff at Bryan Park Golf and Conference Center in Greensboro, N.C. “I made a few shots down the stretch (in the final round) and managed not to have a single three-putt during the tournament,” Larick said. ... Former USC star Katie Burnett earned a place in the U.S. Women’s Open in Sectional qualifying in Carrolton, Texas. Both the men’s and women’s opens will be played at Pinehurst in June. ... Kelli Murphy (Elgin) made her final CGA junior event one to remember, capturing the Vicki DiSantis girls’ championship at Pine Island CC in Charlotte. “Words can’t describe how honored and excited I am to win one of my final junior tournament,” said Murphy, who will play college golf at Auburn. ... Rick Cloninger (Fort Mill) opened a seven-stroke lead early in the final round and cruised to his second title in three years in the SCGA Senior Championship at Old Tabby Links in Okatie. ... Crawford Reeves (Greer), Dalton Ward (Sumter), Kyle Thompson (Greenville), Daniel Obremski (Irwin, Pa.) and Ross Thomson (Daniel Island) advanced to the U.S. Open’s Sectional qualifying in local qualifying at the Patriot GC in Ninety Six.

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