- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Five Ocean Ridge golfers show up at Cinghiale Creek, the home course of The First Tee, every Tuesday afternoon. From 4-5:30 p.m., they teach golf and life skills to 15 junior golfers.
The juniors hit balls and play the course. They also sit down in the classroom and talk about life skills. They learn “meet and greet,” the age old ritual of shaking hands, so important to job, relationships, and sports.
They learn by doing, by trying new skills with their clubs. They learn by example from their coaches.
Bill Smith is the lead coach.
“I was first exposed to golf at this age,” he said. “I know what it did for me in my life, and I want to return the favor. I’ve played golf my whole life, but when I started, I knew nothing. I heard about a job at a golf course, hitch-hiked there and applied to be a caddy. I didn’t even know what the word meant.”
Frank Thomas coached sports, soccer, baseball and basketball. Now he’s coaching golf.
“When you first retire, you just want to play golf 200 times a year,” he said. “After awhile, you need to do more than that. I’m giving back, helping someone else, and that’s important to me.”
Like Thomas, Ed Chatfield also coached his own kids in various sports. There were five children, and now there are nine grandchildren. Four of them play golf.
“Coaching golf is a natural transition for me,” he said. “I love doing this.”
“I always enjoyed working with kids,” Vince Barbera said. “Now I get to spend time with them as a First Tee coach. I can be a positive influence in their lives. I also help out at the Union School.”
When George Cassidy was a kid, he didn’t like golf.
“I got a job caddying and hated it,” he said. “The bags were heavy, I didn’t like any part of it.
“But later in my 20’s, my boss talked me into trying golf, and I quickly learned that golf can be a great asset in business. Where else can you have someone’s undivided attention for four hours? No phones, no interruptions. Your really get to know the other person.”
All the coaches enjoy what they do because they see changes in the kids when they get connected with the game of golf.
“You see the transformation in the kids, you see them grow more confident week by week,” Thomas said.
“I was in the Boundary House restaurant in Calabash last week,” he said. “One of our First Tee kids came in, walked right up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Hi, Coach Frank.’ I was delighted.”