PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla – There’s a lot to do at The Players beyond getting soaked and watching the pros compete for the biggest prize in PGA Tour history. Some local students are showing off what they’ve learned about golf.
First Tee North Florida works to empower kids and teens through golf and is being named “Charity of the Day” at The Players Friday.
Four members of the charity designed putting greens near the 18th hole and anyone who attends the tournament can try them out.
The group’s programming director, Ron Castillo, says the lessons the kids learn about golf translate to their everyday lives.
“Integrity, sportsmanship, perseverance, having the confidence to look someone in the eye,” Castillo said are some of the core values taught. “Speak loud and clear, introduce yourself and show good sportsmanship when you lose and know that difficult times come at some point. Try to give the kids some tools to handle that.”
The three-hole course is along the 18th fairway at TPC Sawgrass and spectators can test their skills.
Alanis Santiago-Maldonado is a senior at Yulee High School. Manyi Ngu is a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacob Davis is a home-schooled senior and Bryson Hughes is a freshman at Creekside High School.
They put their visions into action and a special team brought their designs to life by building the putting greens.
“[Jacob and Bryson] designed the hole that was very golf-themed because they are hard-core golfers,” Castillo said. “[Alanis and Manyi] designed the holes with medals. There are gold, silver, and bronze medals because we were doing it during the [Winter] Olympics. They felt so inspired.”
Castillo is happy local kids are gravitating toward this sport.
“Many of us adults know how much the game has impacted us,” he said. “We know how far it can take the kids in life and opportunities I can provide for them.”
First Tee North Florida has been hooking kids up with clubs and life skills for 25 years. The charity serves kids between 5 and 17 years old.
There is a lot riding on the tournament, and not just for the pros.
Morgan Stanley plans to donate $5,000 to First Tee North Florida for each eagle scored at The Players.