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Each year excellent young men and women graduate from The First Tee of Brunswick County and move out into the world. They are bright and enthusiastic. They know how to play the game of golf, but most importantly, they have learned The First Tee Life Skills and Core Values that will stay with them far into the future.
The Nine Core Values of The First Tee are honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
Today Golf Gab salutes five of our graduating seniors. Two have been with the program since its inception in 2005. One moved here in 2008, and two became members of our chapter when the Wilmington Chapter folded several years ago.
The families of Tim Bringard and Wade Currie are to be congratulated. Each week, and sometimes oftener, they drove from Wilmington to Brunswick County so their kids could participate in our programs and our tournaments. They obviously believed that The First Tee was important.
Here are our five newly minted young adults. We are proud of them.
When Tim was an Eagle-level member of The First Tee of Wilmington, the chapter folded. Tim wanted to stay with the program but the only way this could happen was for him to become part of The First Tee of Brunswick County.
“I played soccer, but when I started playing golf, I really got fired up,” Tim said. “I’m glad I stayed with the program. Through The First Tee I had the opportunity to go to the Future Leaders Forum at Disney World and the Life Skills and Leadership Academy at Kansas State, and best of all, I played in The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach.”
Tim will be attending Campbell University this fall and plans to take the professional golf program there.
“I want to keep it going, keep the game growing. I am so thankful that The First Tee of Brunswick County took me in and gave me all these opportunities.”
Asked what his favorite core value is, Tim replied firmly, “Perseverance. That’s when you are committed to the core, when you keep going, no matter what.”
Another Wilmington import, Wade is also grateful to the Brunswick County chapter of The First Tee.
“When I came here, I realized what a real chapter of The First Tee is like,” he said. “I had an Eagle Scout project and combined it with The First Tee by building an information kiosk for Cinghiale Creek, their home course. Rusty Petrea helped me a lot and became my mentor. Now I’ve had an opportunity to speak in front of groups in Wilmington as Mr. Petrea works to get The First Tee of Cape Fear up and running.”
Wade’s favorite core value is respect. “When you meet someone, you know instantly if they have that core value,” he said.
Wade will be attending Campbell University this fall. He wants to major in trust and wealth management.
Back in 2006, Nick Bradley (world-famous golf teacher and writer) decided to take 10 members of The First Tee of Brunswick County and to give them free bi-weekly lessons for a year. He wanted to see whether a year in his golf school would produce excellent golfers.
It obviously worked. Greg was part of that yearlong clinic and has emerged as one of the premier high school golfers in the region. Number one on the West Brunswick High School team, Greg made it to state tourney last year and barely missed the cut in 2011.
Through the programs of The First Tee, Greg played in the Pebble Beach Open, attended a weeklong Hank Haney School, the Kansas State Leadership Academy and the Player Advanced Academy in California.
The program for older (ace and eagle level) youth stresses “giving back” and helping younger kids.
“I really enjoyed reaching out and helping younger members,” Greg said. “I have enjoyed meeting all the diverse people in The First Tee, members, coaches and volunteers. Coach Terry Mauney made a big impact on my life and I’m grateful to him.”
Greg will be attending Campbell University in the fall. “I’m thinking about the PGM program, but I’m also considering medicine. I’d love to play on their golf team as a walk-on.”
Greg has lots of goals and, like Tim, his favorite core value is perseverance. “Things will happen in your life, but if you have perseverance, you can move forward and overcome obstacles to reach your goals.”
This young man grew up in Archdale and moved here three years ago. His father and his grandfather are avid golfers and Holden grew up playing golf. When he moved to Brunswick County and joined The First Tee, golf got a whole new dimension.
“I joined The First Tee and I’ve had a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot, especially from Coach Mike Gildea,” Holden said. “I play in The First Tee Summer Tour, where we get to play a different Brunswick County course each Monday and collect points toward a two-day championship at the end of the summer.”
Holden attended the Life Skills and Leadership Academy of The First Tee in Phoenix last year.
“My favorite core value is perseverance,” he said. “It teaches me to never give up, especially on the golf course. If you have a bad shot, or a bad hole, you keep going. The same holds with subjects in school.”
Holden is grateful to all the coaches and volunteers of The First Tee and to Jeff Ruth, the PGA pro at Lockwood Folly.
“My brother and I worked there and, in turn, he let us hit golf balls and play the course when it wasn’t crowded. He’s been very good to us.”
Holden has been accepted into the PGM program at Coastal Carolina University for this fall.
A true local, Harrison was born and raised in Brunswick County. He has been a member of The First Tee since it began and also attended the Nick Bradley School. In 2009, he got a two-year scholarship to the Hank Haney School in Hilton Head through a competition sponsored by Golf Digest, Hank Haney International Golf Academy and the Heritage Academy.
“The best part of the Hank Haney School was living with and meeting people from all over the world. I am now friends with kids from Italy, South Africa, Lebanon, Canada and several Asian countries,” he said. “These relationships will last a lifetime.”
At the Hank Haney School, Harrison attended high school classes in the morning. The afternoons were devoted to golf lessons, clinics and course play.
His parents, Valerie and Scott Taylor, attended his graduation where he was named Most Athletic, a noteworthy feat in a school full of junior golfers from around the world. He was also ranked No. 3 in his class academically.
This fall, Harrison will be attending North Carolina State. He plans to study nuclear engineering.
Carol Petrea is the chairman of the board of directors of The First Tee of Brunswick County.
“We are proud that we are helping to produce quality young people like these five. They are good citizens and a credit to their families, their schools and this community,” she said. “Best of all, we know they will come back as alumni to continue the work of The First Tee. The good work that we do here will go on and on into the future.”
Golf Gab groaner
A golfer was in the 19th hole enjoying a few libations after a round.
“Someone stole all my credit cards,” he said to his buddies. “I’m not reporting it. The thief spends less money than my wife.”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for The Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.