First Tee teaches elementary school students about sport and life

  • Friday, May 23, 2014

PHOTOS BY Eileen Keithly/For South Strand News The Scott Marlowe The First Tee National School Program Champions Challenge took place at Wedgefield Plantation on Thursday morning.


One-hundred-fifty-four of the best elementary school golfers in Georgetown County gathered at Wedgefield Plantation Golf Course in Georgetown on Thursday for a bagpipe-filled start to the second annual First Tee National School Day Program Champions Challenge.

Introduced to fourth-grade children during their physical education classes, the First Tee program familiarizes the students with the game of golf, The First Tee Nine core values, and nine healthy habits.

Tommy Gaither, director of Programs and Development for the First Tee of the Grand Strand, said, “This is an awesome program. Anytime you can teach children honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment while they are doing something they enjoy, they will learn the lesson.”

The comprehension of the nine core values was evident in all the champions that participated on Thursday. Just prior to answering his interview question, Andrews Elementary fourth-grader Ryan Angus removed his hat out of courtesy to the reporter, looked her straight in the eyes, and then said, “ This is so awesome, I am a little nervous, but very excited.”

Angus ended the day with a medal for a third-place individual finish.

Marching single-file behind their standard bearers, the teams from 11 Georgetown County schools took their place on the putting green. Once there, with a huge crowd in the gallery, they may have realized what an amazing program they were fortunate enough to participate in. Tyliyah Cohen, a fourth-grader from Pleasant Hill, said, “I am nervous, there are a lot of people here.”

Looking closely, you might have recognized some familiar faces under the hat brims of the tournament standard bearers. Georgetown City Councilwoman Carol Jayroe proudly carried the score for Pleasant Hill.

“I’m not a golfer, but this program is amazing and I am proud to be a part of this championship,” Jayroe said.

Looking around the gallery, School Superintendent Randy Dozier, Police Chief Paul Gardner and City Councilman Ed Kimbrough took part in the morning in a multitude of volunteer positions. There were many city and county officials, residents and volunteers who worked together for the children to put on a magnificent event.

The excitement for the pending competition was evident in the eyes of the children, but it was also glowing from the faces of the passionate and committed volunteers.

Rebecca Albin, executive director TFTTGS and master of ceremonies, commented, “Without our wonderful group of volunteers, this program would not be happening. They are wonderful to the children.”

There were many proud parents in the crowd, and they were proud of the overall accomplishments of their children, not just their golf skills.

Haley Burroughs enjoys watching her son play golf, but she really appreciates the development of positive personal and social values that her son, Emory, a fourth grader at Sampit Elementary, has learned through the program.

“We talk about the core values he is learning as a family,” said Burroughs, “and we love the courtesy lessons that he is being taught. They are invaluable to a young child.”

Echoing the thoughts of his mom, Emory said, “Yeah, I love playing golf, but they teach us so much more, like sportsmanship. That stuff is really important for us to know…It makes us better players.”

The competition was stiff between the schools.

Waccamaw Intermediate School netted the lowest score for the day, a 208, and took home the first-place trophy for the second year in a row. In second place with a score of 214, was Andrews Elementary, and in third place with a score of 238 was Coastal Montessori Charter School.

In the individual competition, Grace Rodenbeck from Waccamaw Elementary was first with a score of 17. Second place went to Morgan Glover from Pleasant Hill Elementary, and finishing in third place was Kate Attias of Coastal Montessori Charter School with a score of 22.

With the top three boys turing in a score of 18, officials went back to their most difficult hole to determine the winner. Logan Thomas from Waccamaw Intermediate School finished first, Jonathan Hughs of Andrews Elementary finished second and Angus finsihed third.

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