In February, I highlighted the opportunities some of my junior students were able to experience during the Honda Classic as a result of their involvement in my First Tee program. It is a tremendous honor to be able to refer my students to participate in these events.
Just yesterday, Joshua Kaiser, 14, served as one of two ambassadors during a fundraiser at The Banyan Golf Club. He was assigned to the 13th hole (165 yards, Par 3), where he challenged each of the players to beat his tee shot. It was a great opportunity for Josh to practice his approach shots while building awareness for First Tee.
Last month, Mateo Muñiz,10, was asked to play in the Raymond Floyd Open at the Palm Beach Par 3, another First Tee fundraiser. He and 2 other First Tee players were part of a 5-person team that ultimately tied for 1st place but lost the scorecard tie breaker. Mateo's putting was a key reason the team did so well.
These fundraisers make it possible for the local First Tee to offer several national opportunities with strict eligibility requirements. Golfers must be invited to apply. Once they have completed a very lengthy application, their entries will be reviewed by a panel at headquarters.
One such opportunity is the John Deere Drive Your Future Academy which is an all-girls event that focuses on learning the value and impact of volunteerism, understanding the significance of values and skills learned through playing the game of golf, and recognizing the importance of building a strong network.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that Jayda Dookie, 17, is one of only 24 girls nationwide that was selected to attend this year's event in San Francisco. I have been her coach for over five years and I can truly say that this honor is well-deserved.
I have been fortunate to coach a lot of junior golfers over the years. Several develop a passion to play competitively and I am happy to help them develop the skill and mindset for that kind of play. In January, I was asked to coach a junior golfer with competitive experience from Peru. I was excited to see what she could do.
In the first lesson, I discovered that Micaela is very talented but she could be so much better with some adjustments to her swing. When I suggested the changes, she looked at me like my head was going to explode. While it was a difficult change, she saw the results immediately and committed to making the adjustment.
As a student, Micaela is very astute and quick to grasp concepts. Her dedication to practicing and playing over the last couple of months yielded a 3rd place finish in the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour at Eagle Trace Golf Club in Coral Springs this past weekend. She shot an 85 and 81 in a two-day tournament. This win is extra special because she played against a former Peruvian teammate who consistently hit longer drives in the past. Armed with her new swing, those days are over and the future is bright for Micaela.
Last Sunday, I learned that Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast, Inc. needed some golfers to participate in their annual Play4JA Golf Tourney that was held yesterday. With such short notice, I was not sure how many of my students would be available. Some were already committed to playing in tournaments, while others had had personal commitments. In the end, several of my students decided to skip their weekly lesson and take advantage of this great opportunity to play the Palm Beach Par 3 to practice their short game, meet some new people and have some fun.
The tournament format was a scramble where a junior golfer was paired with three adults. It was my honor to have nine of my junior students participate and even more rewarding to learn that one of them, Thomas Nevico, led his foursome to the best score, shooting a 35. Thomas also won a closest to the pin contest. The other students were: Kirk Barto, Annika Collado, Spencer Shapiro, Vivian Sterijevski, Danny Tadeo, Troy Tharitimanont, Nathan Vertes and Sydney Rogers who won two closest to the pin contests.
This was a unique opportunity for my junior students and I am proud of each of them for having the courage to step outside of their comfort zone to help Junior Achievement raise almost $30,000 to cover the cost of Junior Achievement curriculum kits. Each kit contains enough supplies for one volunteer to teach up to 30 kids.
Thank you again for this opportunity to golf at the Junior Achievement tournament today! Vivian had a lovely time golfing & the weather could not have been better. It was a beautiful course & she played with a Keiser University team. It was a scramble format and she held her own with these three gentlemen. She was best ball several times, had some great putts, & struck up conversations when appropriate. The men cheered her on & tried to help her with her short game. Overall a really great day! - Vivian's Mom
Thank you so much for inviting me to play in the golf tournament. It was tons of fun and the people I was with were awesome. I won a yeti in a putting contest. It was a good experience. -Nathan
I had a really great time today, met some nice people. Thank you for thinking of me and inviting me to play. I represented Team Beaver well! - Annika
Since 1981 Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast has delivered financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and workforce readiness programs to over 738,000 youth across our five county area.
Too many kids do not have access to education crucial for their future success: personal financial responsibility, budgeting, critical thinking, & career readiness. Junior Achievement exists so that all kids, regardless of background, receive the tools they need to build a future for themselves in which they are optimistic, economically self-sufficient, and determined, with a belief in the power of free enterprise. Junior Achievement prepares students to develop successful financial management habits, empowers them to explore the potential of becoming an aspiring entrepreneur, and provides them with the skills necessary to succeed in a global workforce.
If you have had more than one lesson with me, it is very possible that it was interrupted briefly by a phone call from my daughter or my son. They are the best part of my life so I make myself available to them if they should need me.
Last year, my daughter, Brianna, graduated from college and started working at Family Promise of South Palm Beach County. She is the Transitional Housing Manager and she works with Emergency Housing Voucher recipients. The organization provides these families with case management, mental health services if needed, and assists with finding housing.
When she initially moved here from Chicago, I thought she was going to become a nurse but after the first few classes she felt like she was trying to assist with a symptom and not the deeper issue. As a result, she changed her major to social work because I had raised her with the understanding that everyone will have ups and downs and at any given moment something can happen to put someone in financial turmoil. Now she gets to be a part of the solution while also impacting the community.
Since Family Promise of South Palm Beach County is a nonprofit organization, they host fundraisers periodically and they asked if I would partner with them for Beer and Bayou which is kind of ironic since I do not drink. I agreed to donate a package of golf lessons. If you would like to support the work that my daughter is doing in a small way, simply click the link below to purchase tickets to the event or raffle tickets for the golf lessons.
Playing sports is a great way to meet people and make friends. Golf is no different. I recently started coaching a junior golfer who just moved to the area from Peru. I was able to get her connected with two golfers her age and last week they scheduled time to play a couple of rounds of golf together. Apparently, the player with the best score earned a bag of Oreos from the other players.
Golf friendships are unique in that age does not matter. Mateo just turned 10 but he also joined the girls for a round of golf. They played together from different tee boxes and they had a blast.
It is for this reason, that I teach group classes with mixed age groups. Golfers learn all of the same skills. They may progress and excel differently but at the core they are all golfers who want to enjoy the game.