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Junior Participant Learns to Play Legendary Course

Contributing Blogger: Samantha Smith, participant, The First Tee of Greater Houston

Wow. It’s hard to believe that a little over a day ago I was at home, and about 24 hours later I have played golf at Pebble Beach with Olin Browne. Playing Pebble was quite surreal. It was also quite difficult; this is the hardest course I’ve ever played! I had been warned of the fast poa grass, but I had no idea how thick and sticky the rough was. Luckily, Olin gave me some great tips on how to read the greens and successfully chip and hit full swings from the rough.

Just as the course is difficult, it is equally as beautiful. The view of the Pacific Ocean is absolutely stunning. However, I will have to try hard to keep my balls away from it, like on the approach shot to hole 6.

Pairings Party

The Pairings Party was just as awesome.  The hosts (Carson Daily and Peter Jacobsen) were very funny, and it was a great opportunity to meet the other contestants. I was thrilled when I opened my red envelope to see that I was paired with Olin Browne. I was even lucky enough to meet him that same night! The theme that Nature Valley came up with and the different booths were also a lot of fun.  I can’t wait for even more life changing experiences in the days to come!

Chris Condon / PGA TOUR

Chris Condon / PGA TOUR


From Chapel Hill to Pebble Beach, Jr. Participant Prepares to take on this Legendary Course

Contributing Blogger: Kaleb Lester, participant, The First Tee of the Triangle

I’ve been working on a few things for the past month to get my swing fine tuned for this event, and one of the things that I am working on is figuring out how far the ball travels here in this different type of climate because in North Carolina where it’s over 100 degrees the ball really gets compressed well and travels a fairly long way as opposed to the heavy air here in Monterrey.

This tournament means a great deal to me because I have put a lot of work into my golf game for years and years and to see some of that hard work paying off is pretty special to me.

I really want to thank Nature Valley and The First Tee for giving me the opportunity to come out here and showcase my abilities at one of the greatest golf courses in the world. Hge thanks to Nature Valley and The First Tee.

Participant Paired with World Golf Hall of Member Tom Kite

Contributing Blogger: Daniel Gentilucci, participant, The First Tee of Philadelphia

The pairings party was awesome last night! It was really cool how they introduced us all one by one and put a picture or us up on the big screen. I was kind of anxious to see who I was playing with this week and when I found out it was going to be Tom Kite I was really excited! I also met a lot of new people and made some new friends and had a good time with some old ones. Can’t wait for the tournament to start!


World Golf Hall of Fame Member, Tom Kite

First Impressions – Participants Arrive to Pebble Beach

Contributing Blogger: Jordan Keyser, participant, The First Tee of Fresno

Windows down, car tires on the pavement, trees line the road striped red and yellow.  The ocean breeze blows and the salty air swirls around.  I can see glimpses of the fifteenth at Pebble.  I pull up along the curb and get out with my head on a swivel.  I peer down the breezeway and see the gold letters on top of a building that say “The Lodge” and I know I have arrived.  I head over to the Conference Center which has been transformed into Hospitality for the players and their guests.  I head over to the opposite side of the building where I see a sign that reads “Player Registration” along with “Amateur Registration” and “Professional Registration.”  Before this moment I never knew what it would feel like to be here and about to play in one of the biggest tournaments of my life.

I get to the table and I meet Laura Diaz, shake her hand and tell her how glad I am to be here.  I check in, receive my uniforms, schedule and all the other goodies hidden in the crevices of my bag.  She explains to me when I must wear the clothing provided for me by Taylormade/Adidas and that I must only wear hats with The First Tee logo on it.  She then puts a compact foldable chair in my bag and leads me over to the table where she gives me my packet of information which includes my all access pass, my guest pass, a metal bag tag, tickets to the event and a schedule of events for the upcoming week.  I thank her again, grab all of my belongings and clear the way for the next contestant checking in.

I head over to another table to the left wall to sign two big posters that has the names of all the players, junior, amateurs and professionals included.  I have left a mark, a mark that proves I am here, that I have played with some of the greatest gentlemen to ever play the game at the course of all courses, the mecca of golf, The Links at Pebble Beach.  Before this moment, this whole experience was so surreal.  I could not wrap my head around the fact that I would get to play in this event.  It was coming more into focus and I could not wait for the rest of the week to come.  If only, I could freeze time, to live in this moment where my dreams seem so at a grasp.  I do not want this feeling to go away.  But what my first impression and the feeling I have received has done for me is drive me further, it makes me want it more, it shows me that what I want is possible.  I must persevere and have the confidence in myself to make all things possible and this moment has given me the exact attitude I need to do it.

Setting Goals to Get to Pebble

Contributing Blogger: Samantha Smith, participant, The First Tee of Greater Houston

When I learned that I was selected for the 2012 Nature Valley First Tee Open, I was super excited: not even having five Final Exams could settle me down!

Having taken classes at The First Tee, I’ve learned the importance of setting goals to reach my dreams. One of my goals was to have fewer putts per round, which would inevitably bring my scoring average down. I was able to get my average putts per round down to 29, and I felt I was ready to apply for this year’s event. Continue reading

One Participant Proves Perseverance Pays Off

Contributing Blogger: Jack Tynan, participant, The First Tee of Denver

When I was five, Santa brought me a new set of legos. It was a huge castle and I was so excited that Santa had brought me this amazing gift! I remember that Christmas so vividly because of the pure excitement that I had over that lego castle. That was the same excitement I felt the day I found out I was going to Pebble Beach. Continue reading

Field Shaping Up for this Year’s Tournament

World Golf Hall of Famer Hale Irwin with 2011 junior participant Timothy Briones. Irwin has committed to return this year.

Sixty-nine Champions Tour professionals have committed to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, scheduled for July 6 – 8. Leading the pack are five members of the World Golf Hall of Fame – defending pro-junior champion Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, John Jacobs, Tom Kite and Nick Price. They will join former tournament champions Craig Stadler, Scott Simpson and three-time winner Jeff Sluman.

Overall 81 pros will be teamed with 81 select juniors and 162 amateurs as they compete on Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Course.

Tickets are on sale through the tournament website, www.thefirstteeopen.com.  A $35.00 ticket is good for the week.