Beaver Golf had the pleasure of having two students receive an invitation to play in The Honda Classic Pro-Am this year. Annika Collado played on the First Tee of the Palm Beaches girls team and Mateo Muñiz played on the boys. A Pro-Am is when both professional golfers and amateur golfers compete in a tournament. In this case, the First Tee teams were paired with a professional golfer to turn in an overall team score. The boys played gross (total strokes) and the girls net (total strokes minus handicap).
The boys were paired with Marcus Byrd who competed in the Genesis Invitational hosted by Tiger Woods just this past weekend. They finished 3 strokes behind the girls when the final scores were calculated. Mateo said, "I left some shots out there because my mental game was out of focus; but I learned a lot from the experience. I have some things to work on for sure." He enjoyed playing with Mr. Byrd and thought it was cool that he had just seen him play on television last week.
The victorious girls were paired with Erik Barnes who played in the 2022 U.S. Open. Annika said, "It was great opportunity. I got to see how pros practice and prepare which makes me excited to someday hopefully be there myself." She said everyone was really nice and she will always remember how the girls laughed at their mistakes and cheered when they made putts.
This opportunity impacted Mateo and Annika in different ways and that's what makes golf such a unique sport.
Access to AN Education
Giving back is extremely important and I encourage all of my juniors to find ways to give back to their community or to find ways to serve others. This week, I learned that one of my junior tournament players is passionate about helping kids in Tanzania. Check out his note below and start saving your cans.
Hello, my name is Nathan Vertes.
I am a junior at Seminole Ridge High School in the Biotech Program. I'm in need of ALUMINUM CANS (beer, soda, water, cat food tins). Four years ago, I started helping my friend Rhonda Barona collect cans out of recycling and trash bins to help Project Zawadi, a charity which helps build and maintain 4 schools in remote areas of Tanzania. We crush the cans and take them to the recycling center for money. It takes a lot of cans since we get about $.50 per pound.
Before Project Zawadi, "schools" in Tanzania had 150 boys writing in the dirt with sticks, with one teacher. The girls had to walk for water all day, and weren't able to attend school. Project Zawadi made it possible for all kids to get an education. Also, recently they laid pipeline to provide the schools and all four villages with running water. Many of the kids walk 5 miles to school and get one meal a day, which comes from the school. The children don't have electricity in their homes and have never had toilets. We provide the older students with lanterns so they can study at night.
We have a long way to go and you can help by giving me your CANS!! After your Super Bowl watch parties please save your CANS for me. Also, if any student needs community service hours, please help me collect cans! Last year we collected over 4,000 lbs. of cans to donate $2,100.
This year I know we can do better!! I am happy to pick them up at your house or you can bring them to me in Binks Forest Preserve, in Wellington. If you have any questions, please call my Mom, Amy at (248) 921-7882. Please check out our website www.projectzawadi.wix.com/expandinghorizons if you would like more information or would like to donate. There are many ways to help- every child deserves to have their basic needs met and have access to an education.
"TOGETHER WE CAN."
Playing in Her Home Country
A total of 95 young people from 10 countries competed in the International Junior Golf Tournament in Lima, Peru last week and Micaela Ruidias was one of those players. Prior to leaving for Lima, Micaela dedicated about 30 hours over her winter break to what she called immersion training with me. We had some cold days in there but she trained by herself and with other junior golfers. When she was not with me, she played golf to identify issues in her mental game and course management.
Micaela tied for 13th place after three days of play shooting under 80 each time. This was a goal she was working towards so it was definitely something to celebrate on a personal level. Additionally, she recognized that she could have done even better had she tightened up some approach shots and her putting.
While she enjoyed playing in her home country, now she is looking forward to playing some tournaments on the SFPGA Medalist Tour and balancing the academic demands of her schedule at American Heritage High School.
they are INCORRECT
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.
It is hard to believe that it is August. As I look back on the summer, I am once again humbled. In June, I mentioned that several of my homeschool students participated in Drive, Chip and Putt with varying levels of success. Since then I have had several more, both homeschool and traditional school, take a chance and I am very proud of them.
Camille Adam Girls 7-9 (1st in putt)
Celine Adam Girls 7-9 (3rd in putt)
Gideon Ladicani Boys 7-9
Tristan Ladicani Boys 7-9
Zoe Ladicani Girls 10-11 (2nd in chip)
Londyn Leon Girls 7-9
Thomas Nevico Boys 14-15 (2nd in drive, 2nd in putt)
Danny Tadeo Boys 12-13 (1st in putt)
Congratulations to Camille Adam and Thomas Nevico who are moving on to the Sub-Regionals on August 27th. No matter what happens moving forward each one of them has a memory that will last a lifetime.
This summer also marked the first time that Beaver Golf participated in the Mayor's Golf Tournament at Madison Green. I asked Coach Danni, Coach Mike and my right-hand Mayda to join me in supporting the Mayor's scholarship fund. A couple of my adult students also sponsored foursomes which allowed a few of my junior students (Thomas Nevico, David Peschansky and Danny Tadeo) to play. Everyone had a blast and I even won the 50/50.
One of my favorite while exhausting memories has to be golf summer camp. Each week we had a great group of golfers. They were ready to improve their skills and knowledge but they were also ready to let loose and have fun. Never underestimate the power of a good water soaker. Mayda did a great job of capturing the memories and sharing them on our new facebook page.
I am especially grateful for my volunteers. Their presence and willingness to invest in my younger junior golfers made the experience even more memorable. Thank you Annika Collado, Cienna Collado, Jayda Dookie, Blake Leon, David Peschansky, Micaela Riudias, Sydney Rogers and Troy Thartimanont.