Jason Murphy recently traveled to California to play Pebble Beach Golf Links. Nellie Brunson just got back from a visit to Penn State University.
Neither trip likely would have been possible without the support of the First Tee of Augusta.
The two 17-year-olds spoke Tuesday at the local chapter’s annual fundraising luncheon. With the theme of “More than a game,” each told how the First Tee of Augusta has made an impact on their lives.
The First Tee’s mission is to “shape the lives of young people” by teaching them values through the game of golf. The program teaches them the fundamentals of the game as well as life skills to help them succeed on the course and off the course.
Murphy, a senior at Westside, was selected to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach last month. Eighty junior golfers from the First Tee program were paired with Champions Tour players to compete in a pro-junior event.
Making the experience even more special for Murphy was his pairing with Augusta native and 1987 Masters Tournament winner Larry Mize. While the duo didn’t make the cut, Murphy had a blast.
As he hit a perfect drive on Pebble Beach’s 18th hole, Murphy looked over and saw his mother crying.
“That was the most indescribable feeling I had ever felt,” said Murphy, who said he grew up without a father figure in his life.
Brunson, who takes classes online and is classified as a high school senior, told the audience what the First Tee had meant to her.
Describing her shyness around others, Brunson told about how she enrolled in the program and quickly found a mentor in one of the coaches. When he left last fall, she found it hard to come to the First Tee without becoming emotional. But she continued to volunteer and coach younger players.
“I will do my best to be a good role model,” she said.
Jill Brown, executive director of the Augusta chapter, spoke about the various programs she oversees and re-emphasized the commitment to making a positive impact.
“Every child is a new opportunity,” she said.