I would like to introduce you to Troy Tharitimanont. I started coaching Troy back when I was affiliated with the Junior Golf Foundation of America, Inc. which previously ran the junior programming at Okeeheelee Golf Course. Troy has volunteered in my junior golf classes in the past and is a Senior at Suncoast Community High School. His golf journey is different than most because he has not nor does he have any plans to play competitively.
How did you get started in golf?
My parents pushed me to try golf. When I first went out on the golf course with my Dad, I realized I could not hit the ball straight and I was hitting it way past the target. I became motivated to improve my game and was open to lessons.
My challenge is that I’m an aggressive golfer, I just try to hit the ball, but I have learned to hit the ball farther by working on control. It's a personal battle and a constant journey of improvement.
You are graduating high school this year but never played competitive golf, why?
Golf is for me. It is something I do for personal fulfillment and improvement. I have enough comparative opportunities in school for academics, dance, piano and other activities. When I am taking lessons with Coach Glen, practicing or playing I am just thinking about how I can improve from the last time. It’s a mindset that I apply in my life overall.
How did you meet Coach Glen?
I met Coach Glen in a golf summer camp. He was different from the other coaches. His personality really connected with me. Initially, he seems strict and serious but if you spend more time with him you will discover that he is very caring and he really wants you to grow. Coach Glen is also very sarcastic. He jokes a lot which makes the lesson time more fun. I appreciate that.
That’s why I initiated the search for Coach Glen when Okeeheelee changed their program. I missed the progress I was making. I made a connection with him and I loved his teaching style.
It sounds like you are very focused on improvement, when did that start?
At a young age, I was not thinking about self-fulfillment. My parents gave me opportunities to try things that I thought would be fun. Fun turned into a desire to get better, so I put in the effort and the reward was feeling fulfilled. By the time I was 10, I was performing in ballet, tap and jazz. Performing developed into a love of theater then I started singing and acting. I have a lot of memories. Two of my favorite shows were “The Addams Family” and “Beauty and the Beast" where I played Lumiere and sang “Be our Guest.”
It seems like you have two personalities, one that pursues theater and one that pursues golf. Is that accurate?
Not at all. Both require the same kind of discipline to improve. Growth in all of my activities is not linear. I have had to persevere through many ups and downs. Some of those downs leave scars and it takes time to push through but when I do, I grow.
Most of my downs have to do with the pressure that I place on myself to be somewhat perfect and sometimes I take on too much responsibility. For instance, I am on the Yearbook Committee and I have been very active in school government, serving as the School Vice President. Balance is very difficult so my sleep has suffered at times because time management is a struggle for me.
Fortunately, I have kept my academics a priority and currently have a 4.7 Honors Point Average. Through it all, I have learned to be more self aware of how I feel so I can adjust my priorities and even take breaks from some activities. Going to the gym also helps me take care of my physical health and strength.
What’s next after high school?
College. I have always enjoyed math and science. Attending an Ivy League school has been a goal since my childhood because of the prestige. I also believe they offer a supportive environment. Over the last two summers, I have experienced it first hand by participating in summer programs at Brown and Harvard.
When I was younger I dreamed of making robots to help my family but now I want to leave an impact on the world. I believe there is room to use artificial intelligence to help kids learn at a quicker pace. As a tutor at Mathnasium, I see more and more kids are struggling in math, it is a real problem and I would like to help provide the solution.
I will keep practicing golf too.
What encouragement do you have for younger golfers?
Never be too sure about your plan. Be willing to adapt and make another plan as needed. Harvard is my dream but if I don’t get accepted I know I will grow in whatever school environment I attend like Rice, UCLA or USC.
Nearly twenty Beaver Golf junior golfers attended the TimberTech Championship Junior Clinic hosted by First Tee last Thursday. While waiting for the event to begin some of the golfers were able to watch Champions Tour Players Vijay Singh and K.J. Choi practice short game and full swing respectively which was an unexpected treat.
Rookie Champions Tour Player Tim O'neal was the featured speaker for the clinic. He shared a remarkable story of perserverance. He has had a goal of playing on tour for a very long time and it only came true this past year at the age of 51. He encouraged the golfers to keep a focused eye on their dreams and never give up on attaining them no matter how long it takes. When asked if he would change any decisions he made in the past, he said, "I would go back and practice short game with 80% of my time instead of working on the long drive." He went on to say, that while he is one of the longest hitters on tour, getting it in the hole is what counts.
The junior golfers got to see those drives. Tim O'neal was able to crush the ball even on a windy day. Afterwards, he invited some of the juniors to show off their skills. Mateo Muñiz thought it would be best to let other golfers try, but First Tee Executive Director, Carl Mistretta, did not agree. The surprise of the day was when Abriella Morrison stepped up to take her shot as the only female golfer to accept the challenge. Her Mom was convinced that she would not be comfortable in front of a large crowd, but she was definitely mistaken.
The last order of business was the check presentation. First Tee - Florida Gold Coast was awarded $15,000 to continue building game changers in golf and in life. We are extremely honored to be affiliated with First Tee so our juniors can have access to these opportunities. Last year, some golfers were invited to a behind the scenes tour and we are looking forward to many more.
The TimberTech Championship story does not end there. Let's fast forward to the Final Day of the tournament.
Mateo Muñiz was treated to a day at the final day of the The TimberTech Championship compliments of First Tee of the Palm Beaches. He was very excited to share the experience with his friend Caden Weiler who is starting to take an interest in competitive golf. It was Mateo's first time attending a Champions Tour event and Caden's first professional event.
Much to their surprise the crowds were very light so after watching some shots from their VIP seating they decided to hang out around the 18th hole in hopes of meeting some of the players. While there Mateo was able to reconnect with golf legend, Mr. Bob Toski and get an update about the next Toski Junior Tournament. They also met Major Champs: Ernie Els and Mike Weir and Tour players: K.J. Choi, Jerry Kelly and David Toms. Defending TimberTech Champion, Bernhard Langer even stopped to sign a ball before heading in to sign his scorecard.
Caden could not say thank you enough for the invitation commenting that "watching golf in person is way better than watching on television." Mateo was overjoyed by the friendliness and willingness of the players to interact after their final round. Both left with memories that will last a lifetime.
After participating in a 5-week local Leadership Series at the PGA Superstore in Palm Beach Gardens in the spring, Nathan was encouraged to apply for the First Tee Leadership Summit to represent the First Tee of The Palm Beaches. The event builds on the series and is designed for teens to explore leadership concepts including (1) building authentic relationships by developing awareness, (2) growing through challenge via positive risk taking, and (3) developing positive self-identity through dynamic outdoor and teambuilding activities.
He was selected and spent an incredible week at the West Creek Ranch in Montana where he participated in activity-based workshops facilitated by leaders from PGA TOUR Superstore headquarters, West Creek Ranch, and First Tee headquarters.
It truly was the best week of my life. I met wonderful people, experienced amazing adventures, discussed values and learned leadership skills that I will use in all aspects of my life.
The experience that most impacted me or stood out to me was the 9-hole golf outing, as I was able to establish connections with both my peers and true-born leaders such as Ralph Stokes of the PGA Tour Superstore. His story about being the first black player for the Alabama football team was truly inspiring! -Nathan Vertes
Thank you Coach Glen for helping Nate reach for the stars!!! He is truly having the best week of his life!!!!! Making friends, team building, learning, valuable leadership skills and making memories that will last a lifetime!!!!! -Amy Vertes
Mr. Matt Swanson stopped by to visit with some of our junior golfers this morning for another session of golf course design. He has been involved in the design of many golf courses around the world including Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore which was the site for the HSBC Women's World Championship in March 2023 and LIV Golf in April 2023. We are always thankful for his willingness to share his knowledge with our young golfers.
Today's session was a hands-on workshop. First the golfers shared their personal designs of a golf hole with Mr. Swanson. He provided some general feedback about the elements of a good golf hole which were included in their designs and then he walked them through a series of questions that need to be considered when laying out an entire golf course. One very important question: Where does the sun rise and set?
After studying pictures of actual golf holes, the golfers were encouraged to apply the knowledge that they just learned by sketching out a portion of a golf course on design paper.
"The class was awesome. I loved that he gave us a sheet to create our own course and I loved how he drew on the tracing paper." -Juliana Morrison.
"I was intrigued by how they factor in where the sun rises and sets in order to design a course." -Michelle Morrison.
"He designed Commons and that's where I learn and practice. I like that." -Abriella Morrison
“The biggest thing I hope they learn this week is the confidence. They should instill confidence in everything that they do,” Daryl Worley, Baltimore Ravens.
The goal of this year's First Tee Game Changers Academy was to create thought-provoking discussions & inspiring workshops. Sydney Rogers had the opportunity to participate in the event at Villanova University last week. She absolutely enjoyed the opportunity to meet other First Tee participants from all over the country while participating in team building activities in the great outdoors like kayaking and a ropes course. Her favorite workshop was led by some members of the Amazon leadership team because they shared some of the strategies that made them a game changer in business.
The event also featured panelists from various backgrounds sharing their perspective on diversity. Perspectives that Sydney did not always embrace as complete truth but she was able to confidently articulate her point of view with others. It is not easy to take an opposing viewpoint on how to be a game changer but the experience motivated her to remain firm in her convictions.