Mike started out as one of my private golf students and today I am honored to call him friend. He is a good player but like most he allows the bad shot to take over too much mental space which leads to more poor shots. What impresses me about Mike is his desire to keep practicing and playing even as he deals with debilitating pain which is probably why we get a long so well.
When he asked about being a volunteer, I was not surprised. People see that I have a lot of kids and they always ask but Mike was the first to follow through by completing all of the necessary background checks and training that First Tee requires. He really enjoys watching the kids and is their biggest cheerleader. When I was informed that he was awarded Volunteer of the Year for 2022 and that they wanted him to attend a special event, I laughed. There was no way that Mike was going to a special event, if he was getting an award it would need to be in front of his players.
It took two tries to present it since his back was not cooperating but we did it. He was completely unaware of what was happening at the time. Congratulations Mike!!!
Q: How does it feel to receive this award?
A: It is an honor to receive an award for GIVING.
Q: How did you get started playing golf?
A: Curiosity, my friend started to play and I went along with him.
Q: What prompted you to start volunteering?
A: I had been taking lessons with Glen for several weeks and he mentioned that he also taught kids as part of the First Tee program, so I asked if he needed any help.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about volunteering?
A: Giving back is the greatest lesson, no matter how or when I have found it to be the greatest reward that I have experienced in my life.
Q: When you are not playing golf what do you like to do?
A: Watch and play sports, spend time with family.
Q: Who is your favorite golfer and why?
A: Bernard Langer, his dedication to be the best.
Q: Most people who are experiencing the kind of pain that you are, would just stop volunteering until they are well. Why is it important for you to keep your commitment no matter what?
A: I was taught by my father a long time ago, if you make a commitment you keep it no matter what. As the classes went on I observed that this was much more than teaching golf, Glen had a group of people who cared about teaching respect, family, and integrity etc. (Glen, Danni, Mayda, Mateo, Zack, Stan, Reva) It has truly been a privilege to be involved with Glen and his crew, it is not often you get to spend time with such good people.
If your junior is interested in golf, the first step is lessons but the real enjoyment for the game happens when they get on course to play. First tee and Youth on Course have forged a great partnership where your junior can play at select golf courses for $5. Each course has their own restrictions so additional fees could apply. Click here to join Youth on Course and take advantage of this great opportunity.
Last Thursday, I invited Jayda Dookie, a high school senior at Suncoast Community High School, to visit the Homeschool Golf class. She would be late for school so I had to clear it with her parents and they were on board since she was going to be presented with the First Tee Participant of the Year Award. This is a great honor and I am glad we were able to coordinate it so our homeschoolers could see what is possible when you take full advantage of our program offerings.
After receiving her award, Jayda was gracious in sharing her thoughts with the junior golfers and even took time to visit with the teen golfers in the group.
Question: How did you get involved with golf?
Response: I started at the age of 5 because my older sister was playing golf. She actually stopped but I fell in love with the game. It was attractive to me and came natural. I tried gymnastics and soccer but they were not for me. My Dad actually wanted us to play cricket ..he is from Trinidad and cricket is big there.. but he also fell in love with the game.
Question: How would you describe your golf journey in one sentence?
Response: That's hard. Never ending, it's a constant journey of just pushing forward.
Question: When did you meet Coach Glen?
Response: My first golf coach actually retired to become a police officer. A close family friend suggested we meet Coach Glen. I was 12 at the time. When I go off to college, I am going to miss hearing him telling me I'm doing it wrong and I need to get better. Seriously, we need someone to tell us when we are doing things wrong. His instruction is very helpful and I will admit that I did not always listen to it.
I really did not like him at first. I actually hated him because he would not let me swing my driver which was my favorite club. In all honesty, my swing was a real problem and it was aggravating back issues that I already had due to my scoliosis. When I finally got the driver back, I realized I didn't need it my bag.
Our relationship has since developed from coach-student into kind of father-daughter. He and my Dad are close friends which is a blessing and a curse. They like to "tag team bully me" when I need it the most.
Question: What is your biggest challenge in golf?
Response: The mental game is the toughest for me. The competitions are hard and sometimes I have a hard time pressing through the tough holes. I actually took a break after the last high school season ended.
It gave me a new outlook about the game. I am still open to playing college golf but I know I need to strengthen my mental toughness to successful. I do know that I am not leaving the golf community. I have met so many people on the golf course from playing and being a caddy. First Tee really opens doors. I may even get my PGA card and teach as a side gig.
Question: What encouragement do you have for younger golfers?
Response: Don't give up playing golf. Other kids are going to ask why you are playing with some kind of tone like golf is not cool. They will try to convince you that golf is for old people and they are INCORRECT!!! I am not old and I can't say enough about how everything I have learned in golf actually carries over into my life and the decisions that I make.
I had terrible public speaking skills as a freshman. I was closed off but now I am more open and I can relate to people a lot better. I have met business people who are leaders in the field while practicing and playing golf. I even volunteer for Coach Glen during his camps and that is something I never thought I would be able to do, never mind enjoy.
Question: Who is your favorite golfer?
Response: When I was younger it was Rickie but now it is Rory McIlroy. I have seen him a lot around Seminole where I caddy and he is really amicable. His personality is just like what you might perceive from interviews. I have had several opportunities to talk to him and each time he asked me questions to get to know me.
On the LPGA, it has to be the Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly. Coach has shown me videos of their swing so much, I have them engraved in my memory. They really have it down. Smooth like butter. I also like Minjee Lee.
Question: Who was the first professional golfer that you met?
Response: Harold Varner III. He signed my hat at the very first golf event I attended, The Honda Classic. I went with my uncle and he took me into the kid's area. I still have it. So many memories. I love this game.
If you have had any kind of lesson with me, you know that I usually share resources with you that I believe will help you progress in your swing or help you overcome a flaw in your approach. I am vey passionate about staying healthy and keeping the body strong through exercise. I spend a fair amount of time working out so when I came across an article about Monty Python's silly walk I could not help but laugh. The reality is, we have only begun to truly understand how our body works and maybe we are overcomplicating things. If you are not familiar with the walk, the video and some facts about the health benefits follow, check them out and let me know what you think. If nothing else, you will have some fun doing it.
The team gathered data on 13 healthy adults aged 22 to 71 and tested the silly walking styles of both Mr. Teabag and another character in the Monty Python sketch, Mr. Putey. Only Mr. Teabag’s silly walks resulted in increased oxygen uptake, energy expenditure and exercise intensity. The study showed that physical activity recommendations for adults can be met by exchanging a mere 11 minutes a day of regular walking with Mr. Teabag’s silly walk.
Click here to read full article
The TimberTech Championship is a golf tournament on the PGA Tour Champions which features PGA Players age 50+. This year First Tee invited some of our junior golfers to participate in a "behind the scenes tour" at the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club in Boca Raton. Theo Consonni, Luke Sterijevski, Marina Sterijevski and Vivian Sterijevski were happy to accept the invitation.
The golfers were treated to a backyard lunch followed by a guided tour which included a visit to ShotLink to view how scoring is recorded in a professional tournament. They also learned about the intricate details and planning that goes into setting up the course for the week long event. Afterwards, they watched the pros do what they do best. Bernhard Langer took home the trophy this year.
Thank you so much again for the opportunity! Theo had a great time. Learning the behind the scenes, being able to get into the PGA tours mobile truck and learn about all the technology behind it. Also being able to get so close to some PGA players and watch their wonderful skills. Everything was very well organized and for sure an amazing and unforgettable experience. - Andrea C.
We had a lovely day at the TimberTech Championship. The behind the scenes tour was great. Marina said "it was really interesting to see how and where they do the scoring. " Vivian liked watching the professionals, but also like going behind the scenes as well. Luke said he especially liked watching the professionals drive because the ball goes so far! -Sascha S.