First Tee – Orange County was founded in 2013 and is a youth development organization that enables kids to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges. By seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, we create active learning experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that kids can carry to everything they do. We’re Building Game Changers through our junior golf programs. Since 2013, First Tee – Orange County has impacted over 26,000 youth, 60% of them being non-Caucasian, and 40% female.
Ethan joined First Tee – Orange County 8 years ago when he was just 8 years old. When he started, he was a shy and timid boy. As the years went by, he graduated from the different First Tee levels: PLAYer, Par, Birdie, and Eagle and soon came out of his shell. Once he started High School, he thought about joining the Boys Golf team. During his freshman year, tryouts were held at a Par 3 golf course and unfortunately it did not go as expected. Ethan shot 52 on a par 27 golf course and did not make the golf team. The High School Coach hinted that maybe “golf wasn’t for him”, but instead of quitting and giving up, Ethan used the Life Skills he learned during his First Tee classes. He decided to persevere, utilize the 4 R’s: Replay, Relax, Ready, Redo and the 3 Tips for Showing Grit: Be Patient, Be Positive, and Ask for Help. He had one year to improve his golf game and he took advantage of every free second, he had. After school he was at the golf course every day, before and after First Tee classes on the weekends, Ethan put in extra practice. Even though Ethan had been putting in hours of extra practice, he reached out to a First Tee coach for help. On his day off, Coach Matt, met Ethan at a golf course and provided swing tips and advice for when he played on course. Fast forward to a year later and Ethan was trying out for the Boys Golf team his sophomore year. They had tryouts at the same golf course. Ethan was extremely nervous, but remembered the 4 R’s: Replay, Relax, Ready, Redo. He replayed what Coach Matt had been helping him with, controlled his breathing, and stepped up to the golf ball when he was ready. At the same golf course where he shot 52 the year prior, Ethan shot 3 over, scoring 30! Ethan made the last spot on the Boys Golf team!
Ethan told us, “First Tee definitely helped with trying to make the golf team, from the classes, coaches, and using the Life Skills (perseverance, 4 R’s, and 3 Tips for Showing Grit)”.