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Grab your clubs and sign up for the Future Generations Tournament June 7 at St. James Plantation. It’s a world of fun. Great golf on three fine golf courses, wonderful food, prizes, camaraderie and all for a good cause: The First Tee of Brunswick County.
Out of the nearly 200 chapters of The First Tee in the U.S. and the world, ours is an Ace level chapter, which means it’s one of the best in the world.
That says a lot about Brunswick County. We don’t have large corporations sponsoring our chapter. We don’t get beaucoup bucks from large professional golf events. We are a simple, farming-retirement-golfing community, yet we have an Ace level chapter here.
It’s all thanks to our 350 volunteers, our terrific staff and board of directors, our generous golf pros and golf course owners, and our local merchants who write checks and sponsor events. Because of this generous community, The First Tee reaches more than 7,000 children each year in Brunswick County.
I wanted to learn more about the tournament, so I met some of the key players last week at the Tiger’s Eye Clubhouse in Ocean Ridge. Attending our informational session were Walt Stachura (chairman of the tournament), Linda Bradley (chairwoman of the board of directors of the Carol S. Petrea Youth Golf Foundation, the parent organization of The First Tee of Brunswick County), Rebecca Albin (executive director of The First Tee of Brunswick County), Mike Gildea (board member and public relations chairman) and Ellen Gregory (the new executive director of the Carol S. Petrea Youth Golf Foundation).
These are dedicated, dynamic people who work hard and truly care about the youth of Brunswick County and the region.
“This is the seventh year of the tournament and the fourth year at St. James Plantation,” Stachura said. “We are every grateful to St. James Properties for continuing as our major sponsor for this important fundraiser.”
Bradley said, “This tournament is important to us, not just for the funds it raises, but because it brings awareness to the community of what we do. Our kids will be there, meeting and greeting the golfers, dining with them, playing in the tournament.”
The Future Generations Tournament is the largest golf charity tournament in the region. The schedule begins with coffee and registration at 8:30 a.m., with driving ranges open for warm-ups. The shotgun start is at 10 a.m. on the Reserve, Players and Founders Courses. Teams of men, women and mixed couples will compete in three divisions.
At 3:30 p.m. participants will gather for a cocktail hour with complimentary beer and wine, followed by the awards dinner at 4 p.m.
There will be a raffle, a 50-50, silent auction and live auctions and golf awards. The many fabulous live auction prizes include a two-day, all expenses paid trip to The Greenbrier, one of the world’s most luxurious golf course resorts.
“The Wounded Warriors will be there for the fourth year,” Albin said. “These guys gave their all for us. Three teams will compete and have a great time, once more helping their community by their very presence and example.”
Stachura has been with the organization since the beginning, coaching, serving on the board of directors and caddying for the some of the kids who have represented our chapter in The First Tee Pebble Beach Open.
Stachura spoke with Dalton Gore, a senior at Mount Olive College, who is a graduate of The First Tee of Brunswick County.
“The First Tee changed my life,” Gore said. “What I learned from the Life Skills and Nine Core Values, along with the caliber of coaching, was awesome. The First Tee paved the way for me to play in their national tournament at Pebble Beach and helped me to earn a full golf scholarship to Mount Olive University. I can’t imagine where I’d be without The First Tee.”
The First Tee is throughout Brunswick County every day, influencing and impacting youth ages 7 to 17. First Tee teaches golf and life skills. The youth have a good time learning the game of golf while they learn the Nine Core Values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
The First Tee is in every elementary school through the physical education program. Fourth- and fifth-grade students are bused to Cinghiale Creek, Magnolia Greens and St. James Players Club for on-course instruction several times each year. After-school programs and Saturday programs take place during the school year. In the summer, The First Tee runs camps for various age levels. Throughout the county, youth who never touched a golf club are learning this great game and all its inherent values.
We are changing the world for the better, one child at time.
I went to Cinghiale Creek on Thursday afternoon, April 3, to watch a birdie class in progress.
Part of their learning experience involves the Nine Healthy Habits. I heard active discussions of what kind of bread is best for sandwiches (whole wheat is preferred over white), and what kinds of healthy snacks the kids were enjoying (popcorn ranked high on the list).
Joseph Sturdivant is 15, has a great golf swing and told me he “came to The First Tee to play golf and have fun.” He is home-schooled.
Seth Mulholland attends Shallotte Middle School. “I want to learn to play golf because my grandfather played golf,” he said. Again, another good swing.
Katie Friend is in the seventh grade. “I liked School Day Programming and wanted to do more, so now I’m in an after-school program,” she said.
It was obvious the childtren and their coaches were having a good time, talking together and working in small groups on their chipping and putting.
Terry Mauney, PGA pro and program director for The First Tee of Brunswick County, was working with the children. So were Bob Malloy, George Webber and Ed Gurski. These guys are committed to the program. Malloy has been coaching for four years. Webber has been involved for more than five years. Besides coaching, Gurski helps with the computer analysis that helps The First Tee of Brunswick County run smoothly.
“We’ve put together a program to track sign-ups for the tournament, donors, gifts, participants, all in real time,” he said. “We can compare 2014 to 2013 day by day. All that information helps us run a better event.”
Stachura said it best. “Come on out and play in the Future Generations Tournament. Meet the kids and meet the volunteers who make it all happen. You’ll have a good time.”
Sign-ups for the tournament have begun and one course if already filled. To register for the Future Generations Tournament, please go to www.thefirstteebrunswickcounty.org.
If you have any questions or wish to become a donor, call The First Tee of Brunswick County at 754-5288.
Golf Gab groaner: Golf balls are like eggs. They’re white, they’re sold by the dozen and you need to buy fresh ones each week.
(Submitted by Bill Frotheringham)
Elsa Bonsteinis a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein