Top 10 Reasons to Volunteer with The First Tee of Greater Charlotte

1. It increases your personal health 1

When you volunteer, you are focusing your attention on others, and not on yourself. Perhaps you have a lot going on in your life at the moment…or perhaps a recent college graduate…or maybe you just need a break from your day job. Whatever the reason may be, volunteering is a great way to free your mind, and relax. Especially when you get to hang out with the amazing kids at The First Tee of Greater Charlotte!

2. You learn something new


So you want to be a volunteer with The First Tee of Greater Charlotte-but you don’t think you can because you have never played golf-let alone coached anyone in golf-before. That is okay! At The First Tee of Greater Charlotte, we take volunteers of all skill levels. Rest assured, our volunteers come from a variety of different backgrounds and skill levels.  Prior to the start of each season, Volunteer Orientations and Trainings are offered where you will learn all the necessary skills needed to assist with classes. While you are teaching the participants new skills-you could be learning new skills yourself.

3. Volunteering looks great on a resume

3A strong and robust resume is needed not only for job hunting but for college applications as well.  An exceptional resume will not only feature prior job experience or academic performance but also volunteerism and community involvement.  Spending one to two hours per week for an eight to ten week class not only shows dedication and commitment but also great leadership skills, communication skills, and a passion for your community.

4. It enhances your personal growth

4Similar to learning Spanish, taking a yoga class, or reading a new book, volunteering is also great for personal growth. The relationships you will build with participants of The First Tee of Greater Charlotte will makes an impact not only in their lives but in yours as well.  The program gives youth ages 5-18 the opportunity to learn life skills, core values and the game of golf through interactive and Activity-Based games.  While the participants learn and grow, you grow.


5. You build new relationships

5You not only build relationships with the participants in the program, you build relationships with the staff at The First Tee, and your fellow volunteers. When you join our growing team of volunteers, you gain access to an amazing network of people. Our volunteers come from all walks of life-working professionals, retirees, and even a few alumni and current participants.  We believe that everyone has a story to share. We want you to be a part of our story

6. You learn the significance of a single gesture


Coaches encourage young people to follow life skill and core value behaviors while at The First Tee and in other aspects of life: Respect for myself, respect for others and respect for my surroundings. The First Tee of Greater Charlotte teaches core values such as honesty and courtesy. Each round of golf begins and ends with a handshake between participants. They also learn the rules of the game and to be respectful on the course. Teaching the participants these values and skills on the course sets them up for success off the course.

7. You can play outside

7The First Tee of Greater Charlotte offers programming at seven area locations: Emerald Lake GC, Fort Mill GC, Highland Creek GC, Charles T. Myers GC, Springfield GC, Sunset Hills GC, and of course The First Tee of Greater Charlotte Learning Center, located at The Dr. Charles L Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park. All of our locations offer outdoor classes either on the driving range, golf course or short game area.  On a warm afternoon-it’s a great place to wrap up the day!

8. You can help improve your community


Participants at The First Tee learn interpersonal skills, self-management skills, goal-setting and resilience skills that will help them not only on the golf course but at school and their personal life as well.  The First Tee is making a difference in the Greater Charlotte community by helping to create the leaders of tomorrow.

9. You make a difference

9In today’s society, 11.3 million American youth are either alone or unsupervised between the hours of 3pm-6pm. The First Tee helps to combat this problem by offering low to no cost programs during these hours.  The First Tee of Greater Charlotte impacts over 1,500 kids each year through its unique programming model. The program teaches youth ages 5-18 valuable life skills, core values, and healthy habits through the game of golf. When you volunteer with us, you are a part of this special experience. That makes it truly unique.

10. It’s contagious….

10When you leave The First Tee of Greater Charlotte and tell your friends and family about how much fun it is, it makes them want to volunteer too. Spreading knowledge about program and volunteer opportunities is a great way to help more participants and volunteers get involved.  Part of our coaching philosophy is “doing versus telling.” We train coaches to be mentors – in golf and in life. It is because of amazing volunteers like you that The First Tee of Greater Charlotte can continue to make an impact for years to come….. Plus, it’s just fun!

The Revolution of Revolution Park

Known as Charlotte’s “hidden gem” and home to The First Tee of Greater Charlotte Learning Center, Revolution Park Golf Course has a remarkable history. Today, it is a beautiful 9-hole course known as the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course. In 2008, The First Tee of Greater Charlotte remodeled the practice area into one of the best in Charlotte. We also remodeled the old clubhouse into a cozy, bright, and inviting learning center. The new clubhouse, which is separate from us, stands on the corner of the lot connected to a Park & Rec Center which boasts a fitness center and boxing ring.TFTCnewimages0002Charlie_Sifford_Logo

To understand the revolution of the course, we have to go back to 1929 when the Barringer family donated the land to the city for recreational use. A municipal golf course named Bonnie Brae was built, but the deed for the land included a very specific requirement: for use by white people only. In 1951, a former African-American police officer named Ray Booton tried to play the the course and was denied. This moment set into motion a lawsuit lasting 5 long years which resulted in the North Carolina Supreme Court desegregating the golf course almost thirty years after it first opened. James Otis Williams was the first African-American to play the Bonnie Brae Golf Course. He was 17 years old and shot a 37. Shortly after, city officials voted to purchase the golf course.

James Otis
James Otis Williams, 1957

In this same year, my friend James “Slim” Bouler (age 65) legally played Revolution Park for the first time. Slim was, and still is, a regular patron of the golf course. I had the pleasure to sit down with Slim and his good friend, Leroy Roseboro (age 70), to hear their stories.
slim2016Growing up in Charlotte, golf was a significant part of Slim’s life. As a boy, he started out caddying, and he instantly fell in love with the game. By 12 years old, he found himself a club to play with and a spot to practice. I say “a” club because he literally practiced with one 4-iron in the field behind Dilworth Elementary School. The first course he played was Revolution and he shot a 72. By 8th grade, Slim earned a spot on his junior high golf team. Although he was much better than most of his teammates, he was unable to play in the tournaments due to racial tensions.

Slim’s account: “The courses that my team played on would not let blacks play. My coach said, if you can accept it we’ll have a golf team, and if don’t accept it then we won’t have a golf team. I wanted to play but I didn’t want to hurt the other guys on the team. You have to understand, if we had the opportunity, there would have been more players like Tiger Woods. We just didn’t have the opportunity.”

Even though Slim did not have the same opportunities as his Caucasian peers, he definitely made a name for himself in the Charlotte golfing community. Slim shared countless newspaper articles with me in which his name is in the headline. For Slim, his most significant accomplishment was taking the inaugural Black Hall of Fame Golf Tournament title. Below is the article from the July 21, 1986 Enquirer Journal. (You’ll notice they spell his name incorrectly). In the article, Slim states, “The Title means more to me than anything else because it was the first Black Hall of Fame to ever be played. It’s like a dream come true.”


Leroy Roseboro had a similar experience growing up in Charlotte as his friend Slim. Leroy started out as a caddie at Eastwood Golf Course. When he wasn’t caddying, Leroy practiced with one left-handed club (he is not left-handed by the way). He lived over at Brookhill, and he told me that he and James Black would make up their own course with holes going from one side of the street to the other. He would use his one, left-handed, club to play their makeshift course. What he has always most enjoyed about playing with Black was “James Black was always humble.”

James Black is a legend around the Charles L. Sifford Golf Course. It seems almost every patron that comes into The First Tee of Greater Charlotte Learning Center asks about James Black. Mr. Black regularly stops by the course and our office to tell stories from his playing days and to offer words of wisdom to both staff and participants. In the late 1950’s he joined a caddie club at Revolution Park. This allowed him to make honest money and learn the game of golf. As a junior golfer, there were no tournaments in the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) that he could play in; that did not stop him. The United Golf Association (UGA) was a group of African-American golfers who operated a separate series of events. This tour became a way of life for Mr. Black to play competitively. The golf courses that they played on were not manicured, and almost unplayable, but it taught him to play better. Mr. Black is a strong believer in the rules of golf and maintaining integrity at all times which is an important lesson The First Tee teaches.

Black - Mr.]
Mr. Black speaking at Charlie Sifford’s memorial service which was held at the golf course in 2015.

Growing up in this time period of turmoil when golf was probably the hardest sport for a young African-American to play in Charlotte, I asked Slim, “Why didn’t you just play something esle?” The answer was quite simply, “I loved it.”

On May 3, 2011 Revolution Park Golf Course was renamed the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park. Now, the course where The First Tee of Greater Charlotte proudly stands is named for the man that led the way for African-American golfers. Sifford, along with men like Slim, Leroy, and Mr. Black, personify perseverance. They are examples that by maintaining your values and abiding by the rules of golf, one can succeed. What better example to set for the participants of The First Tee of Greater Charlotte?

As our chapter continues to grow in the number of youth participating, volunteers, and staff, our learning center will continue to evolve. We currently have plans to expand the learning center by 40% to accommodate for more indoor programming space for our kids. Ground breaking is tentatively set for June. Many community supporters will be invited to this event. Three special guests will most certainly be Mr. Black, Slim, and Leroy.

Personally, my hope is that the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park and The First Tee of Greater Charlotte Learning Center will leave a legacy of unity. I hope that it will remain a place where children and adults from all socio-economic backgrounds, race, religion, and even skill level, will come to enjoy the game of golf. I hope that the patrons of the course and the participants of The First Tee will continue to set an example to the community by upholding The First Tee Nine Core Values, specifically respect and integrity. And I hope that we can remember the past, learn from it, and move forward towards a brighter future.



Revolution Park Oral History Project, UNCC

Revolution Park & Civil Rights Timeline

USGA Article, Charlie Sifford

Slim Bouler, Charlotte, NC

Leroy Roseboro, Charlotte, NC

Ike Grainger, Charlotte, NC

Our Mary Poppins

Tanya Briner is our very own Mary Poppins. She glided into The First Tee of Greater Charlotte Learning Center when the fall winds were changing. She took on our “front office woes” and urged us all take our medicine (with a spoon full of sugar). Not to mention, she has quite a beautiful singing voice.

Always the first one in the door each morning, her tasks range from bookkeeping and budget management to being our in-house IT guru. Everything she does is with an efficient and confident hand. Honestly, I do not know how we got on without her. Sensible, witty and kind, Tanya keeps our checkbook balanced and the office on task to be the best The First Tee chapter.

Tanya Briner

Tanya, why did you pursue this role with The First Tee?  The position here was fate. I applied for an HR Director position on There apparently was a misdirection in the link that was supposed to forward my resume to that company and instead sent it to The First Tee. When I received the invite to pursue, my husband got very excited. He was extremely familiar with The First Tee and thought that at this time in my life, I should love what I am doing instead of doing what makes me the most money. I came to the conclusion that perhaps he was right (not that I would ever tell him that). After my interview, I decided that I would love to be here no matter what. I have always believed that God always puts the right path in front of you, you just have to choose to follow it. I am so grateful that I did. I love the kids, the mission and the game of golf and consider it an honor to have had this an opportunity to be a part of it. 

Which of The First Tee Nine Core Values is most important to you? Why? “Integrity – It is a personal choice to continuously hold yourself up to the highest moral and ethical values. In my opinion without integrity none of the other core values can possibly be achieved.

tanya young
Tanya in second grade

Describe a moment when you were working with children (your own or other) that made an impact on you.  When my son was very young, he was diagnosed with ADD and a short term memory deficit. School was a struggle because he had such a hard time with rote information. If it didn’t engage the higher brain, he couldn’t remember it. Needless to say spelling words and math tables were a challenge because you can’t get any more rote than that. I spent a great deal of time working with him to find ways to make this information easier to handle. We developed all sorts of games and songs to elevate these assignments to a higher brain function. One day after a successful spelling test, he came home very excited and proud. In the middle of our conversation, he very casually told me that I was his guardian angel. I think I cried for a week. All he needed was for someone to take the time to help him find his way of learning. When I see kids today that struggle or have behavioral issues, I think back to that time and remember that most kids only need someone to care just a bit.

Tanya Family
Tanya with her husband and children

Why do you think it’s important for girls to play sports? Girls who play sports feel better about themselves. It builds confidence when you know you can practice, improve, and achieve your goals.  It also helps develop social skills that otherwise might not be so easy to develop.  

What projects are you currently working on to improve our organization?  I wish I could say something really cool or glamourous, but I am a numbers geek.  I have taken over the bookkeeping for the organization and therefore it has been brought in house.  This will allow for more up to date information with regards to our financial status.  While not glamourous, it is important because the funds we raise allow us to do all the wonderful things that The First Tee does for the kids.

Ok, fun stuff now…

  1. High heels or tennis shoes? Six months ago, I would have said high heels, but tennis shoes are really growing on me!
  2. What is one thing you can’t live without? My husband, who is the greatest guy in the world (another, don’t tell him that kind of moment) LOL
  3. Beach or mountains? I love both, but I would rather be in the middle of the woods on a mountain.  I feel so at home there.
  4. What is your go-to, feel-good song? Wow, this is embarrassing and you probably haven’t even heard of this song, but secretly and only when I am alone, I burst out into an old song called, “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” by Donna Fargo.  My mom used to walk around singing it when I young and it stuck with me.  How can you not feel better when singing that?
  5. Rory McIlroy or Jordan Speith? Rory all the way!

Finally, what makes you come to work every day?  I never know what I am going to encounter.  I meet some of the sweetest people as well as some of the funniest.  That being said, it is the possibility of seeing the kids come by that is the main attraction.  They always have a smile or a story to share and that is what makes it all worth it!

mary poppins

To my friend, Mr. Grainger

Ike Grainger served as Board Chairman of The First Tee of Greater Charlotte, Executive Director, and Development Director. He is retiring at the end of this month. The letter below is written by Ace level participant, Max Wimbrow, to his dear friend, coach, and mentor, Mr. Grainger. 

Mr. Grainger,

I don’t want this to sound like a goodbye letter so I promise I will do my best to not make it sound that way! The times that we have spent together, whether it’s been on the 7th green at Pebble Beach or on the driving range at The First Tee, have always been awesome. You are not only my “caddy at Pebble” but also one of my best friends. I know that you are always there whenever I need some advice on life or golf, and you are always ready to give me and all the other kids at The First Tee words of wisdom.

I want to thank you for being one of the very best Executive Directors of The First Tee of Greater Charlotte. You have opened more doors for me and the other participants than we could have ever imagined. You are the special piece to the puzzle that makes this First Tee Chapter the best in the country. For that I am extremely grateful. Everyone that comes through The First Tee doors will miss you. So come back every once in a while!

Many people know you were my caddy at the 2014 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. My favorite memory of our trip was at the 16th hole at Pebble in my practice round, because it was the first time I ever saw you speechless. If you remember, I hit a cut off of the tee and this one went over a few trees and we lost sight of it. So we go up there and look around for it and I find it and I had no stance because it was an inch from going into a creek. I could’ve played backwards through the trees to the fairway (which is what you wanted me to do!) or try a flamingo shot and hit on one foot. You know Max Wimbrow, so you know what option I chose. I remember you asked me what was I going to do and that you didn’t like where I was looking, and I told you I was going to hook a 9 iron 50 yards over these 40 foot cypress trees onto the green and then asked you to get a yardage. For the record, you tried to convince me not to try this but my mind was made up. From 153 yards I hit it and hooked it perfect. The ball landed within a foot of the hole and rolled of the side of the green about 20 feet from the pin. I just looked at you and then laughed like “I told you so!” and you just shook your head in shock for the next 20 minutes and didn’t say a word. Although we would have made the same score from your idea you never admitted that it was a good shot, so please text me that it was!!


Also it’s worth telling you that I enjoy the back and forth conversations that we have after Duke vs. UNC games. The picture that you sent me from Thanksgiving game between Duke and UNC from 1959 hurt a bit, actually hurt a lot! For the record, I even Googled it to make sure you didn’t photo-shop it.

I will never forget the places we have gone or the things we have done. I will miss you the most.



The First Tee Participant turns The First Tee Pro – Meet Brittnay Cross

Please join Greater Charlotte in welcoming our brand new Program Coordinator – Brittnay Cross! We are beyond thrilled to have Brittnay join of the programming team. She has an extensive coaching background along with the administrative skills to successfully coordinate our 8 programming locations (among many other tasks!). Brittnay may be new to our office, but she is not at all new to The First Tee. Get to know her story here….

Brittnay, talk about when and why you started playing golf.
I didn’t start taking up golf until I was about 14 years old. A little late, but better late than never! My parents actually briefly introduced me to the game when I was around 8 but my sights had been set on playing other sports and being around friends. Looking back at it, I wish I gave it more of a chance! When I was 14, right before my freshman year of high school, my family moved from the Bay Area (California) to Sacramento, CA which was a couple hours away. Given that I was new to the area, I didn’t know anyone. My parents suggested (like they do) that I dust off my clubs and “try out” this organization called The First Tee of Sacramento. The thought behind it was that I would meet some people and maybe learn to really play golf….It did WAY more than that for me. It was here (The First Tee of Sacramento) where I became hooked on golf, met some of my best friends, and really developed an appreciation for the mission of The First Tee.

                          Baby Brittnay

You obviously have a passion for the game. Was there ever a time when you wanted to quit?
As a junior golfer there were definitely a few times where I wanted to quit. For me golf was a very frustrating, it was one of those sports that just didn’t come easy for me. And whether I realized it or not at the time, golf taught me the value of perseverance. I couldn’t help but to stick with it. I wanted to get better regardless of how much I needed to practice. I was either stubborn or just plain addicted!

Talk about your decision to play at the collegiate level. Was it always a goal for you to play collegiate golf? What was that experience like?
My decision, or rather desire, to play at the college level happened shortly after I started playing golf. My ultimate goal was to get a scholarship and become a collegiate athlete. I knew that if I wanted to go to college I was going to need some (financial) help getting there. I consider myself very lucky because that help came in the form of the one sport I loved to play…Golf! I was also fortunate enough to receive direct help from the First Tee to help pay for college.

Talk about your experience being a First Tee participant in California?
Incredible! I absolutely loved every minute of my time spent in The First Tee of Greater Sacramento. I met some awesome people and the coaches were some of the most dedicated and passionate people I had ever been around. It wasn’t just the game that brought me out to the course, it was the coaches too! During my time at The First Tee, I was not only a participant, I was also a volunteer and employee. I had the privilege of seeing the organization from both sides. As a participant, I was fortunate enough to attend The First Tee Golf and Life Skills Academy at Kansas State University. I participated in the local junior golf tour, and volunteered for various junior golf programs carried out by The First Tee.

How has The First Tee evolved since you were a participant?

The First Tee has grown immensely since I completed the program! When I was a participant, I believe there were only three certification levels: Par, Birdie, and Eagle. There is way more community involvement and outreach being carried out since the time I went through the program. It’s a great feeling to see where The First Tee has come and think: “Wow, how lucky am I to be a part of this!?”

Describe a time or moment when you were teaching that made an impact on you.
I had been working with this beginner junior golfer for quite a while in a clinic setting on and off for about a year or so. For me as a coach, to see him develop all the skills over time was exciting, but the defining moment that I still think about to this day was when his mother came to me after class and thanked me. She said that since taking up golf, he was getting better reports from his teachers and his grades were going up. For me, it’s not just about the satisfaction of seeing the juniors play better golf, it’s about seeing them grow and become better people.

BCRoss_golfWhy do you think it’s important for girls to play sports? In what ways do you want grow our chapter’s number of girls?
I think it’s very important for girls to play sports! I think there is still a lingering social stigma that girls don’t or shouldn’t play sports because “it’s what boys do”. For girls, sports are a great way to meet other girls that share a common interest. As far as growth goes for the number of girls at our chapter, my hope is to grow the LPGA-USGA Girl’s Golf program into something that girls want all year long. Along with that, it is my hope that we will increase our number of female volunteers and coaches to serve as direct role models to our young girls.


Ok, fun stuff now…
1. Putter or Driver? Driver. For sure.
2. Quail Hollow or Charlotte Country Club? Quail Hollow. I have never played Charlotte Country Club.
3. What Tees? White
4. Tennis shoes or heels? Tennis Shoes all the way!! To be honest, I don’t even own heels. Can’t handle them.
5. Jordan or Rory? Rory.

In the short time you’ve been with The First Tee of Greater Charlotte, what makes you come to work every day?
Being able to see how much fun the kids have here and knowing that I am a part of an organization that is making a positive change.

Brittnay had to get in a round on her wedding day
Brittnay had to get in a round on her wedding day

Playing with Champions: Interview with Dylan Fisher

We got the chance to catch up with participant, Dylan Fisher, after his incredible trip playing in The Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Dylan ended up missing cut by just 3, finishing at 5 under.

How did it feel when you first stepped onto the course at Pebble Beach?
The views were amazing and beautiful. The view made me take in the moment and not think about the game too much.
Who were you paired with?
Bart Bryant. He was pretty introverted but very encouraging. He was a very nice guy and a positive player.

What is one thing you learned about yourself while you were there?
I learned that my attitude on the golf course is a lot better than I thought it was. I can be hard on myself, but after watching the pros and other kids emotions and reactions, I realized that I have a great attitude.
What was the best part of your game while you were there?
Ball striking. I hit a lot greens. Also distance control. You have to pretty precise on where you land green.
Name some of the influential people that you met
Mr. Jeffrey Harmening who is an Executive Vice President and COO at General Mills. He was at the breakfast table one day and I got to talk to him for a bit there. Also, Leon Panetta was a speaker. He is a former Director of the CIA. He was very inspiring.

PB2015_5What did you learn from speaking with Mr. Harmening?
He gave me tips on networking. We talked about The First Tee quite a bit. We also talked about colleges. He advised me not to commit to a major too early, but instead to explore the first year and find what you like.
What was the most memorable hole?
Seven at Pebble Beach. It’s a short Par 3, and I was able to Birdie that hole. I struggled with it during the practice round, and then I was able to hit my drive to 12 feet from the hole. The ocean was on both sides, so it was hard to focus, but I got it in.

pebble beach

What core value did you rely on most while you were there?
Courtesy. Showing courtesy to everyone while I was there was really important to me. I think that being courteous makes people more open to talking to you.

To next year’s juniors – what is one piece of advice you’d give them?
On the first night, we have a skills challenge – try as hard as possible on that night because the winner got a signed flag from Arnold Palmer. Also, don’t worry about what you’re shooting. Have fun with it.


Quick 18 with Shae Payne

Every few weeks we will feature one of our participants in the Quick 18.  This week, meet Shae Payne

  1. What’s your name, age, grade and level in First Tee?

Shae Payne, 13, 8th, Eagle

shaep headshot

  1. What is the strongest part of your game?

My drive

Shae Payne3

  1. What professional player would you most like to play with?

Boo Weekly

  1. What course are your dying to play?

Quail Hollow

  1. What is one of your favorite First Tee memories?

Caddying for Phil Mickelson at the Pro Am

shae payne5

  1. What is your favorite club in your bag?

My 7 iron

  1. What do you keep in your golf bag?

Lots of bandages and a glove signed from Boo Weekly

  1. What’s been your favorite tournament to play in?

A fundraiser event for “Volunteers in Medical Missions” in Easley, SC

Shae Payne2

  1. Who is your all-time favorite PGA/LPGA Player?

Dustin Johnson

  1. What is your greatest passion, besides golf?

Caring for animals

  1. What core value is most important to you?



  1. What’s your favorite subject in school?


  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Veterinarian for exotic animals

  1. Who is your role model?

Dr. Ashleigh Wooten Zacarias

  1. Who would be in your dream foursome?

Myself, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Coach Ian

shae payne4

  1. What are your hobbies, interests outside of golf?

Reading, volunteering at the veterinarian hospital, making animation, and singing in the Youth Praise Team at church

  1. Out of all of The First Tee National Participant Opportunities, which one would you like to do most?

Play in the Redmond Cup

  1. Imagine you just won the Master’s – what would you do next?

I would go hug Bobby Ellis for all is help


Staff Spotlight: Kaitlyn Jarman

Kaitlyn Jarman is certainly the friendliest face at The First Tee of Greater Charlotte.

Parents and participants know her a passionate and an encouraging coach.  Our Board Members, donors, and supporters know her as a highly efficient and effective worker.  And the rest of our staff, including (make that especially) myself, go to her for guidance on all things “The First Tee.”  Kaitlyn is in her 8th year with The First Tee, fourth with our chapter, and as Kaitlyn moves into her new role as Director of Operations I thought it would appropriate to feature her this week.

Kaitlyn, talk about when and why you started playing golf.

I started playing golf when I was about 7 or 8 years old just tagging along with my dad to the golf course.  I would walk alongside of him and he would let me take a few shots here and there. We’d hit 9 irons in the back yard and when I got good enough to hit the ball over the fence, then he got me a full set. I started playing competitively at 12 or 13 in 9-hole tournaments around Maryland where I grew up.  Then when I got into 8th grade I started playing in an 18-hole mini tour across the mid-Atlantic. 


You obviously have a passion for the game. Was there ever a time when you wanted to quit?

Yes – it was hard being the only girl that played out of my friends, and all of the people I played with were boys.  There was not a girl’s team at my high school.  It was especially difficult when I was around 15 years old, and I wanted to hangout with my friends but had to practice instead.  My parents pushed me to keep going. Looking back, it was the best decision I ever made – to stick with golf. I thank my parents for encouraging me to keep playing.

               Kaitlyn and her mother

Talk about your decision to play at the collegiate level.

I really got serious about playing collegiate golf my junior year, and I realized that I could play D1. I knew I wanted to go somewhere in North or South Carolina and I sent my resume to just about every coach in both states.  I went on a few official visits.  I went to App State during fall and fell in love with the campus, the coach, and the girls on the team which was important to me.  I just knew that was where I wanted to go to school.  Ever since I was 5 I went to Boone in the summers, so even though it was 8 hours away from home it felt like home.  I loved college and I loved being a student athlete.  I also got to join a sorority.  I don’t remember all of the scores I shot or how the team finished, but I have so many wonderful memories. 

               Kaitlyn (middle) with her App State team

Talk about your experience playing on the Future’s Tour.

I decided the beginning of my senior year that I was going to give it a go turning professional.  The fall after I graduated I went to Q school and qualified with conditional status which means I was able to play in about half of the tournaments.  I was fortunate enough to have some sponsors and the support of my parents.  I got to travel and meet a lot of people from all over the country.  I usually traveled with the same group, so I was able to bridge friendships with girls that I played against in college.  My first tournament was Jalapeno Classic in McAllen, TX which is 5 miles from Mexico. It was definitely a memorable experience. 

How did you first get involved with The First Tee?

On a whim. I was still traveling and playing a little bit, and I went down to visit my, now, husband in Wilmington. I was looking for a full-time job and found out that The First Tee of Brunswick County was hiring a Director of Programming.  I stayed at Brunswick County as Director of Programming for 2.5 years then moved to Charlotte with my husband where I took on the role of Marketing and Events Manager.

KJ Pinehurst
Kaitlyn with Coach B, Dan Cottingham, and Ike Grainger playing at Pinehurst

How has The First Tee of Greater Charlotte evolved since your first years here?

Wow. When I first came on board in 2011, I was the 3rd hire and now we’re a staff of 6 (almost 7).  We’ve grown from 1 programming location to 8, and our events have grown 4-fold.  Also, the brand in general has grown in the Charlotte community.  I’ll usually wear a First Tee hat on the weekends, and people are starting to recognize the brand and ask me about it.  Our chpater has really grown from a small after school and summer program to a youth service organization that truly is changing lives.

What programs and events have you personally created and developed for our chapter to make it successful?

I created and organized the Ladies First Luncheon which has raised over $55,000 over the last 3 years.  I also developed The Young Professionals group which helps create awareness and raise scholarship funds.  I helped realign our chapter with The Wells Fargo Championship and helped create opportunities for our participants and volunteers at the tournament. I added a new element of hole experiences to our TFTGC Invitational offering the players a memorable and unique experience.  I also implemented the Girls Golf Program in Charlotte.   One thing I am most proud of is growing the National School Program from 20 schools in 2011 to 145 schools today and creating transition opportunities for schools such as green-grass field trips.

Kaitlyn, Ike, and Emily at the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship

Talk about your favorite First Tee memories.

My favorite times are when I get to hang out and work with the kids – helping kids build memories around the game of golf.

REd Cup 2
Kaitlyn teaching a group from the YWCA

Ok, fun stuff now…

  1. Putter or Driver? Driver
  2. Quail Hollow or Charlotte Country Club? Quail Hollow because no one has asked me to play Charlotte 🙂
  3. What Tees? 6,000 yards
  4. Tennis shoes or heels? Flip flops
  5. Jordan or Rory? Jordan

So to wrap it all up, what makes you come to work every day?

Kaitlyn with her husband, Chris (who also played golf at App State).

The people.  I consider our staff, board members, volunteers, and participants an extended family.  I feel blessed and honored that I have a job that is not only fulfilling to me but makes a difference in other people’s lives as well. 

Baby Samantha Rose practicing her putting

Start the School Year FRESH!

Happy New Year! Well, happy new {school} year that is.  With a new year, it’s a good time to start fresh.  By starting “fresh” I mean fresh food and a fresh outlook on being healthy.  As parents, coaches, and volunteers, we are models to kids in almost every aspect of life – one being health.  Something so valuable that we can give kids is the knowledge and mannerisms in which to live fresh, happy and healthy.

Disclaimer – I am not a certified nutritionist!

Raise your hand if you want 0 sick days this year! Avoiding illness and being healthy starts in the kitchen, so let’s talk breakfast first.  Countless studies show that “children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school and have better concentration and more energy.”*

So what does a “nutritious breakfast” even mean? Look for foods high in protein and low in sugar.  Don’t stress too much over calories.  Instead, look at what is IN the food.  Food = Fuel, and if you can’t read the words on the ingredients label, then that food is most likely not the best thing to fuel you. Going from Math to PE to Reading can be tough!  Our students will be more successful if properly fueled and energized.  And, they will be even more successful if adults around them are modeling healthy eating.  Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas:

healthy breakfast
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Quick Tip: start the day by drinking a big glass of water right after you wake up.  This helps both hydration and metabolism!

On to lunch… most schools and school districts post the cafeteria schedules online and/or sends the calendar home.  This is a great opportunity for parents to be able to plan accordingly and to see what your kids are eating.  For example, if it’s pizza day at school then maybe plan on making a more nutrient-rich dinner with vegetables and protein.  If you pack lunch, here are some great tips:

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Dinner can be a difficult one.  You’re tired and hungry and you just want to whip up a PB&J and call is day.  Two suggestions for dinner are 1) take the time to “unplug” and tune in to your family while savoring your meal, and 2) pack in whole grains, veggies & protein while avoiding high fat. If you, or your child, have a hard time falling asleep, consider that foods high in fat (like fried food) take longer to digest which can keep your body awake. **

My personal favorite cheap, easy, and healthy dinners include:

  • Breakfast for dinner: you can make this as healthy as you want with an egg & veggie omelet and whole grain toast or go a little more fun with eggs, lean sausage, and pancakes (light on the syrup though!)
  • Beans and rice: add in avocado and fresh veggies like chopped zucchini, tomatoes, peppers & corn and you’ll have something tastier (and cheaper) than Chipotle
  • Chicken w/roasted sweet potatoes & broccoli: chop the sweet potatoes into cubes and toss them in a bowl with the broccoli and olive oil. Then, pour the contents onto a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for about 20 min. Bake the chicken to your liking. This meal is high in nutrition, low in cost!
  • Chili: this is a great meal to make a big bowl on Sunday and have for the week. Make sure to add in some veggies like zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers!
  • Easy-Homemade-Burrito-Bowls-iowagirleats-01_mini
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So, are you on board the health train yet? Toot Toot! Check out more info about The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits here.

Another really cool opportunity to get your family movin’ and groovin’ this fall is to sign up for 5210 Challenge! The next challenge begins on Sept 9.  Click Here to learn more about the challenge!

Resource Websites:

*American Academy of Pediatrics Back-to-School-Tips

**Greatist: Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

CMS Lunch Calendar

Fort Mill Schools Lunch Calendar

Comment below with recipe ideas and tips!

Quick 18 with Rupen Singer

Every few weeks we will feature one of our participants in the Quick 18.  This week, meet Rupen Singer:

  1. What’s your name, age, and level in First Tee?

Rupen Singer, 16, Ace Level

  1. What is the strongest part of your game?

My short game

  1. What professional player would you most like to play with?

Jordan Spieth


  1. What course are your dying to play?

Sage Valley

  1. What is one of your favorite The First Tee memories?

Playing in the practice round of the Sage Valley Junior Invitational

  1. What is your favorite club in your bag?


  1. What do you keep in your golf bag?

My scorecard from Pinehurst No. 2

  1. What’s been your favorite tournament to play in?

The Redmond Cup (an event organized by The First Tee of Richmond)


  1. Who is your all-time favorite PGA/LPGA Player?

Jordan Spieth

  1. What is your greatest passion, besides golf?

Looking at the latest technology

  1. What core value is most important to you?


  1. What’s your favorite subject in school?


  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Chemical Engineer

  1. Who is your role model?

Webb Simpson

  1. Who would be in your dream foursome?

Myself, Jordan Spieth, Arnold Palmer, and Webb Simpson


  1. What are your hobbies and interests outside of golf?

Math, Science, watching Big Brother and anything funny

  1. Out of all of The First Tee National Participant Opportunities, which one would you like to do most?

Nature Valley First Tee Open

  1. Imagine you just won the Master’s – what would you do next?

Go to Chick-Fil-A in my green jacket