The PURE Insurance Championship impacting First Tee at Pebble Beach is a one-of-a-kind event in the golf world.
Since its inception in 1997, the tournament has hosted hundreds of talented, and fortunate, junior golfers from the First Tee to play alongside golf legends on the PGA Tour Champions. It's a learning opportunity that goes beyond just the golf course.
Alyssa Stewart, representing the First Tee – Greater Dallas, who was paired with eventual runner-up Justin Leonard; and Brayden Casolari, representing the First Tee – Pine Mountain while paired with Brian Gay, claimed the female and male Pro-Junior titles, respectively. The reality, though, is that all 80 junior golfers who got to tee it up can feel like winners. They got to play two bucket-list courses - Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill - while soaking up advice and tips from experienced veterans.
The First Tee, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization that is supported by the PGA TOUR, continues to benefit the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character and instill life-enhancing values through the game of golf. Since 1997, First Tee has reached millions of kids annually through its network of 150 chapters, 11,000 schools and 1,900 youth centers. The PURE Insurance Championship is its national showcase.
We asked a handful of First Tee participants what piece of advice they're taking home with them as they continue to improve their games and move forward in their competitive golf careers. Here's a sampling:
“One shot or hole doesn’t dictate your day. You can always turn it around. You can always have fun on the course, no matter what.” - Taylor Horacefield, who represented the First Tee – Greater Houston while playing with Jeff Maggert.
“Throughout the week, I learned many things from my pro, from different shots to hit in specific situations to how to calculate different yardages. I also learned that even when dealing with bad shots, it’s best to just laugh it off and move on to the next hole.” - Tavia Burgess, who represented the First Tee – Greater Sacramento while playing with Robert Gamez.
“I learned a lot from my pro just by watching. When he played a longer yardage, strategy was such a factor – which side of the fairway or green to miss and where to place the ball on the green for the best chance at birdie. Also, he hit a lot of shots around the green that I would like to add to my game.” - Alaythia Hinds, who represented First Tee – Greater Sacramento while playing with Brian Cooper.
“I had the most amazing pro. I learned that even at the highest level, being a nice person and down to earth is still the right way to be. My pro and his family were very welcoming from Day 1. This made me have fun practicing and playing on the course and allowed me to play well and enjoy the game.” - Keanu Phillips-Alberto, who represented the First Tee – Contra Costa while playing with Shane Bertsch.
“The main thing I learned playing with Mr. Petrovic was mental control on the course. He very rarely shows emotion and just laughs off his bad shots. This allowed him to keep playing well because he didn’t lose his confidence. I will work to apply this in my next four years of golf before college and throughout the rest of my golfing career because Mr. Petrovic has saved his score many times by being calm, and I strive to be like him.” - Blayze Chapman, who represented the First Tee – Indiana while playing with Tim Petrovic.
“Being able to play with Thongchai Jaidee and watching him shoot a 65 was truly incredible. He became a pro when he was 30 years old, and this taught me that no matter what age I am, keep pursuing your dreams. He also taught me to keep it simple and stick to the basics.” - Diego DeJesus, who represented the First Tee – Greater Washington D.C. while playing with 2023 PURE Insurance champion Thongchai Jaidee.
“I learned that there are so many ways to approach a shot and that having another person’s perspective can really help a player learn and broaden their approach to the game. My pro also told me to focus on the present and forget the bad shots. One final thing I learned from hearing Mr. Appleby’s conversations with his caddie is how to approach certain holes and where to land it.” - Jonathan Moon, who represented the First Tee – Howard County while playing with Stuart Appleby.
“I learned many things at Pebble Beach, but by far the biggest was the importance of networking and how we were put into an A+ spot playing with CEOs and influential people. Another major aspect was how to harness your nerves to not only play better, but to enjoy and appreciate the entire experience.” - James Labukas, who represented the First Tee – Tucson while playing with Scott McCarron.
“This week I learned there are always holes left to play. Even if you’re struggling, whether it be in golf or in life, there is always a future to look towards, and you always have new opportunities. So relax and understand that you will recover!” - Meg Lavinder, who represented the First Tee – Greater Richmond while playing with Mark O’Meara.
“I learned to approach every shot with a routine, and to always try, no matter the circumstances.” - Marcus Freeman III, who represented the First Tee – Greater Charlotte while playing with Davis Love III.