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They Call This Mecca

Contributing Blogger: Haley Chinn, participant, The First Tee of Seattle

My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m.  Normally, I would be in full REM at this un-teenage hour but today I was leaving for Mecca…Pebble Beach.  The flight from Seattle to San Francisco was only 2 ½ hours long yet it felt like an eternity because I have been ready to play since the day I received my acceptance email to the Open.

As we approached the entrance to the world famous “Seventeen Mile Drive,” my heart skipped a beat as a prominent sign welcomed First Tee Open contestants.  This only solidified the beginning of this amazing opportunity.  As I winded along Seventeen Mile Drive, I caught glimpses of the course and the beaches beyond.   It looked more breath taking than I remembered 2 years ago when I caddied for my sister Lindsay at these very shores in the 2009 First Tee Open.  

As I walked towards the Hospitality room to register, Mr. Tom Kite walked along with me, also heading to register.  I would’ve introduced myself but that’s when it hit me, I was going to play on the same course as the Legends of golf played – Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones.   After receiving my contestant ID badge and collecting my tournament ensemble, my excitement didn’t have a chance to subside as PGA pro, after pro entered the room to register.  Even while making my practice round appointment there were pros abound.  No wonder they call this Mecca.

My sister Lindsay is on my bag just like I caddied for her in 2009.  I appreciate her words of wisdom on how to overcome the pressures of playing with a pro and representing my First Tee Chapter.  Her mantra comes from Francis Ouimet: “You’re playing against Old Man Par, not the other players.”  Her most telling advice was, “Enjoy this time and take advantage of every experience.”  Thanks to the First Tee and Nature Valley for making all of this possible.

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