On Monday, July 27, 2015, the Brightspot Pro-Am teed off at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, kicking off the PGA TOUR Quicken Loans National. Since 2012, Brightspot has brought together individuals from a wide array of backgrounds to provide a memorable and unique experience at some of the most historic courses in the nation. Now in its fourth year, the Brightspot Pro-Am once again welcomed golfers from The First Tee, Special Olympics, and Feherty's Troops First Foundation from around the country. Read below to learn more about the young golfers from The First Tee who competed in the 2015 tournament.
Hallie Boles is the most active participant at her local chapter of The First Tee of Pine Mountain, having logged more practice hours than anyone in the program. Through this hard work, she has earned her status as an Ace level participant. Prior to joining The First Tee of Pine Mountain, Hallie was shy and tried avoiding conversations and meeting new people. Through the program, she has learned life skills that have helped her become more outgoing and engaging, all while improving her golf game.
Involved with The First Tee of Raritan Valley since 2009, Brendan is an Ace level participant who has logged over 220 volunteer hours coaching at his chapter. While staying active in his local chapter, he is also an assistant coach for the inaugural Indoor PGA Junior Golf League. Brendan was also chosen to play in the first ever First Tee Par-3 National Championship. This fall, he will be attending Fairleigh Dickinson University.
David Dendler is an Eagle level participant of The First Tee of North Florida. He has logged over 400 hours at his chapter over the past four years. Before joining the program in 7th grade, David was timid and unfamiliar with playing golf. He has now gained more confidence through interacting with others and is a member of his high school golf team.
In addition to assisting coaches at his local chapter of The First Tee of The Palm Beaches, Brandon Doner is an Eagle level participant who has been in the program for three years. Brandon has competed in various regional and national tournaments. He is looking forward to meeting new people from around the country at this event. Aside from making him a better golfer, Brandon believes that The First Tee has made him a better leader and student, as well as becoming more involved in his community.
Elijah Fox started at The First Tee of Hampton Roads when he was 6 years old. He is moving onto his 9th year of involvement with the program and is an Eagle level participant. Elijah has never been to a PGA TOUR event, so he is looking forward to this inside the ropes experience at the Quicken Loans National.
Isabel Gonzalez stays busy on and off the golf course. She is Ace Certified with The First Tee of Raritan Valley and participates in the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf program in New Jersey, all while maintaining a 3.6 GPA. This fall, Isabel will be attending Methodist University and will be enrolled in their PGM program.
Albert Hansrisuk has been with The First Tee of Connecticut since 2005. He is Eagle certified with over 250 programming hours spent with his chapter. Recently, Albert was a participant in the Nature Valley First Tee Open. Albert uses the words “passionate, honesty, and hardworking” to describe himself and looks forward to visiting Virginia and Washington, DC for the first time.
An Ace-level participant at The First Tee of Naples/Collier, Makenzie Hotchkiss has logged over 200 hours of programming at her local chapter. For the past 2 years, she has been selected as a Standard Bearer for the Greg Norman Shark Shootout and has played a vital role in the annual fundraising event called the Hickory Stick Tournament. Makenzie also volunteers as a coach during summer camps and is an ambassador for young girls introduced to the game of golf.
Casey Lindo has been involved with The First Tee of Charlotte since 2011. The program director at his local chapter describes him as “working hard both on and off the course, and being a wonderful role model to younger participants.” In addition to golf, Casey is involved in Army Junior ROTC where he has been recently promoted to Squad Leader.
Kevin May is an Eagle Certified participant at The First Tee of Baltimore. He has overcome Type-1 Diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at birth, and he uses this to fuel his motivation through life. Kevin placed 2nd in the Maryland State Championship, all while holding his impressive 3.6 GPA. He understands the importance of giving back and strives to provide the best mentoring possible to students and his chapter.
James Moore is excited to be granted this opportunity by The First Tee. He is very interested in learning more about Brightspot from a business standpoint. He’s attended a number of chapter-wide events to volunteer and speak to parents and participants about his experience with The First Tee of Greater Washington, DC. This year, James will begin volunteering for the chapter as he works at achieving Ace level certification.
Mariana Ocano is a rising senior with a 3.89 GPA. She started programming with The First Tee of Saint Petersburg over 9 years ago and is now an Eagle Certified participant. She is a fine representative of The First Tee’s Nine Core Values. Mariana also excels on the golf course, maintaining a 2.1 handicap. In 2014, Mariana was selected to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Last fall, she tied for 8th in the Florida High School State Tournament.
An Eagle Certified participant, Kayla Parsons has been a member of The First Tee of the Triangle since 2007. She has fared well in local, regional, and national competitions over the past two years, winning seven of the tournaments she has participated in. Kayla hopes to play on the LPGA TOUR and would love to use this opportunity to see what a day in a pro’s life entails.
Paige Poteat is an Eagle level participant with The First Tee of Delaware and is very excited about the chance to play with a Special Olympics athlete at this year’s Pro-Am. She has been with her local chapter since its inception over 13 years ago! A mentor and role model for others at her chapter, Paige is excited to meet new people, experience new things, and bring that knowledge back to her chapter.
Terese is a rising freshman committed to playing golf at Mercer University. She is a scratch golfer and finished as a first alternate at the USGA Women’s Amateur Qualifier. In 2011, she endured a wrist injury, limiting all athletic participation. It is The First Tee that kept her head up through these times, always offering words of encouragement and keeping her focused, so she could rebound from the injury and prevail. She is excited to play and connect with a Special Olympics participant and PGA TOUR player at this year’s event.
Shelby Shumaker has been a part of The First Tee of Pittsburgh for over 8 years now. She has logged more than 250 hours programming, which is impressive considering she is only 15 years old. The First Tee has taught her about more than golf; her chapter’s executive director states that Shelby “has embraced the challenge of public speaking and has delivered a confident speech about who she is, who she would like to become, and how The First Tee has helped her and will continue to help her grow into a confident woman.”
Like most kids who join The First Tee, Zachary Thomas was shy and hesitant to play golf. Through perseverance, he progressed through the program quickly in the four years he has been enrolled. Now an Eagle Participant, he stands out as a confident mentor for the junior golfers in the program. Zachary wants to take away two things from this opportunity: learn how to become a better golfer and learn how to become a better person.
Drew White loves playing competitive golf and is eager to learn from the best. His favorite quote comes from Arnold Palmer: “Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.” He hopes to eventually play college golf. To try and reach that goal, Drew has created a goal ladder for golf and academics.