In Memoriam: John T. Stuart III (1936-2022)
STUART III, John Thomas died peacefully at home on May 27, 2022. A lifelong resident of Dallas, he was born August 12, 1936 to Dorothy Guthrie Stuart and John Thomas Stuart, Jr. He attended Highland Park High School and the University of Texas, graduating in 1958. Subsequently, he graduated from SMU’s Southwestern Graduate School of Banking and the Harvard Advanced Management Program.
At Highland Park, John was a cheerleader and Blanket Award recipient. At the University of Texas, John was a member of Delta Tau Delta, The Texas Cowboys, Editor of The Cactus and a Distinguished Military Student. He was a member of Phi Eta Sigma and Beta Gama Sigma. Following graduation, he was in the US Army stationed at Ft Hood Texas. He then joined Republic Bank in Dallas, rising to be President and holding the same title in the successor First Republic Bank of Dallas. He moved on to be President and CEO of Alpert Investment Company. He then joined Guaranty Bank, the Temple Inland subsidiary, retiring as Vice Chairman. He served on the Board and returned as Chairman and CEO for a brief time. He became Vice Chairman of Belmont Interests, a private wealth management company until he retired.
As an alumnus of the University of Texas, he served as President of the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Exes, President of the Texas Exes at Austin, Chairman of the Texas Red McCombs School of Business Advisory Council, the Longhorn Foundation and the UT System Chancellor’s Council. He was also President of the University of Texas Foundation. He served on the Centennial Commission of 100 and the Commission of 125. The University honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Business School Distinguished Alumnus Award and Hall of Fame Award. Friends established the John T. Stuart III Centennial Chair in Business Administration. He along with his wife Barbara was named ”Top Hands” by the Texas Exes as well as the Dallas Distinguished Alumni. He was a Life Member of the Development Board at the University of Texas, Austin and Dallas. He was a member of the Littlefield Society.
He served for six years as a member of the University of Texas Athletic Council and was named an honorary letterman. He was appointed by the UT Athletic director to the Board of the Cotton Bowl Athletics Association. He served as President and Chairman in 1992, serving two years and was a Life Director. As a long-time member of the Team Selection Committee, John traveled to a number of colleges developing lifelong friendships around the country. He and Barbara enjoyed their travels to UT football games both in Austin and away from coast to coast including three trips to the Rose Bowl, two of which were National Championship games.
He served on a number of civic boards in Dallas but in most recent years he gave his time to Callier Center of Dallas becoming President of the Board. He also found great enjoyment from his volunteering time with the Boys Scouts of America. He was President of the Circle 10 Council, President of the Circle 10 Foundation, an area and regional Vice President. He served as Jamboree Sub Camp 16 Chief in 2010. He received the Distinguished Eagle Award, The Silver Beaver Award, the Silver Antelope Award as well as the Whitney Young Service Award. He was a Vigil Honor and Order of the Arrow. He enjoyed his trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for training programs on behalf of Scouting including Wood Badge.
Having lived most of his life in University Park, he felt it a privilege to have served as President of the University Library and a number of years on the University Park Finance Advisory Committee which he was Chairman until his recent resignation.
John enjoyed his service to amateur golf in Texas serving on the Texas Golf Association Foundation and a volunteer at area tournaments for the Association.
He served on a number of other boards including The Executive Board of North Texas Public Broadcasting, Chairman of the YWCA, Board of the Florence Foundation, Board of the Summer Musicals and the African-American Museum Board of Trustees. He was a lifetime member of the Salesmanship Club.
John really enjoyed trout fishing in both the lower 48 and Alaska. He was fond of his greenhouse and enjoyed discovering new plants for landscaping in Texas. Both areas he could immerse himself and find pleasure and beauty.
He was a past President of Royal Oaks Country Club, member of Dallas Country Club and Highland Park Presbyterian Church.
He is survived by his wonderful and loving wife of almost 66 years, Barbara Kay White Stuart, his son John Michael Stuart, his daughter and son in law, Melissa and George Pettit Macatee IV, grandchildren, George Pettit Macatee, V, wife Kailee, McBride Macatee Oden, husband Madison and John Stuart Macatee and John Michael Stuart II. John has two Great grandsons; Madison Lee Oden III “Tres” and George Pettit Macatee, VI.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7, at Highland Park Presbyterian Church.
Texas Adaptive Golf Championship Rd. 1 Recap
FORT WORTH — Unexpectedly cold and wet conditions marked Round One of the Texas Adaptive Golf Championship at The Golf Club at Champions Circle. Despite the weather, many players put together solid rounds.
The low round of the day came in the Multiple Leg Division Flight of the Men’s Open Division from Joshua Tankersley, who carded a 4-over 75. Also breaking into the 70’s was Stephen Terpak of the Legends Division Flight in the Senior Men’s Division with an 8-over 79.
The 54-hole event features some of the best adaptive golfers from across the nation. Players were welcomed on Monday with a Fundraiser Scramble.
What’s Next: Round 2 begins Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. The full schedule of events can be found here.
Course: The Jay Morrish designed course presents a great challenge to all of its competitors and creates a fun experience for everyone through its many amenities and playing surfaces. The design utilizes the area’s natural creeks, large oaks and dramatic hillsides as players wind their way through the championship style layout. The par-71 course is not long but requires superb shotmaking ability and intense focus on many holes.
About the TGA: The Texas Golf Association was established in 1906 with a mission to promote the playing and advancement of the royal and ancient game of golf in Texas. The association is one of the most respected in the country with an ongoing commitment to its members, contestants, volunteers and all who strive to preserve the great traditions of the game.
About the TAGA: To learn more about the Texas Adaptive Golf Association, please click here.
TGA-YOC Virtual Open House: Learn How Facilities Can Join Youth on Course Network
Nearly 2,000 golf courses across the U.S. and Canada are part of the Youth on Course network, offering rounds of golf to our 130,000 members for $5 or less.
Grow the game and your future customer base – nearly half of YOC members’ rounds are played with a paying adult, generating further business for your course (including increasing your food, beverage and merchandise sales).
The program is simple to implement and complements other junior golf programs, giving participants more opportunities to apply their skills to the course.
HOW IT WORKS
- AVAILABILITY: You decide when YOC members can play at the reduced rate. Members always play for $5 or less, and YOC subsidizes each round played.
- PROMOTION: We’ll provide marketing materials highlighting your course’s YOC membership rates.
- LOGISTICS: Your staff checks in YOC members via our online system to track rounds and subsidies.
- PAYMENT: You’ll receive monthly reimbursement checks from YOC for each round played.
Join us for a virtual open house to learn how to bring Youth on Course to your facility.
CLICK BELOW TO REGISTER:
TGA, STPGA, and NTPGA Extend Junior Golf Alliance In 4-Year Agreement
The Texas Golf Association, along with the Northern and Southern Texas PGA Sections, recently announced a four-year extension of the Texas Junior Golf Alliance (TJGA).
Established in 2013 to formalize the relationships between the TGA and PGA Sections, the TJGA creates a statewide partnership that highlights playing opportunities for juniors in each region of the state based on playing ability. The Alliance establishes a local, regional, and statewide roadmap for competitors operated by the governing bodies and leaders of the golf community in Texas.
The new extension takes the TJGA partnership through the 2025 season.
“Texas has an incredible heritage in championship golf, and many of the greatest players in the game have come up through our junior ranks,” said Stacy Dennis, Executive Director of the TGA. “By extending the TJGA partnership and solidifying the relationships between the NTPGA, STPGA and LJT, we can collectively continue to provide Texas junior golfers the best platform to compete and chart their course to accomplish their goals and achieve their dreams. I am so proud to be a part of delivering this opportunity to Texas kids.”
Junior golfers become members of the TJGA and LJT by joining their respective PGA Section’s junior program. Alliance members have opportunities to play in the events conducted by the PGA Section in their region. Through playing in NTPGA All-American Tour and STPGA Srixon Prestige Tour events, Alliance members earn status and exemptions into LJT events, which are conducted by the TGA.
As a result, participation at the local level is encouraged and supported, and LJT Championships attract the best players throughout the state. This allows LJT events to earn American Junior Golf Association Performance Stars, higher World Amateur Golf Rankings, and greater attention from the collegiate golf community, including coaches.
“We are very proud of the partnership that we have with the TGA and STPGA,” said Mark Harrison, Executive Director/CEO of the Northern Texas PGA. “The Alliance provides a clear player pathway for our local junior players on the Sections’ Junior Tours to reach the Legends Junior Tour, which is the top of the playing pyramid in Texas. With the likes of Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, and Will Zalatoris, amongst others who are by-products of the Alliance and Junior Golf here in Texas, the future is bright for the Legends Junior Tour and our partner organizations. However, most importantly, it is bright for the junior golfers and their parents that we collectively serve.”
As the top of the TJGA pyramid, the LJT formed in 2005 to establish an elite-level, statewide junior tour to provide the state’s top young competitors opportunities to compete at the highest level without leaving Texas. Extending the partnerships with the All-American Tour in North Texas and Srixon Prestige Tour in South Texas continues to fortify the LJT’s position as the proving grounds for the most elite junior golfers in the state.
“While this alliance showcases how Texas is the best place for junior golf, it more importantly showcases all three organizations’ desire to create lifelong golfers and introduce the game to as many people as possible,” said Thomas Hutton, Executive Director of the Southern Texas PGA. “The STPGA believes strongly that we need to create a player pathway for all junior golfers, and we are excited that the alliance continues to be strong for the best junior golfers in Texas.”
Foundation Raffle Winners Announced
Thanks to all the big-hearted golfers who entered the TGA Foundation’s raffle this year. Over 350 tickets were sold at various TGA-related events throughout the year for a chance to win one of two VIP packages to Tapatio Springs Resort in Boerne.
The winners of the two prize packages, valued at over $3,000, were announced on Friday, Nov. 5, following a random drawing.
The Grand Prize winner was Kim Pope of Montgomery, who bought her ticket in August at the Bentwater Yacht & Country Club Play Day. Kim won a one-night stay in the George Strait Suite and a round of golf for four on the award-winning Tapatio Springs course.
Larry Corson of Dallas, who bought his raffle ticket in September during Texas Senior Amateur registration, was the second winner. Larry won a two-night stay in a Traditional Suite and a round of golf for two.
All proceeds from the raffle benefited the TGA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Texas Golf Association. The Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, was established to make certain that golf in Texas continues to grow and prosper. It achieves this mission through the financial and administrative support of existing grass-roots junior golf development programs, and in creating new avenues for deserving and underserved youth to learn some of life’s most important lessons through their exposure to the game of golf.
Congratulations to Kim and Larry, and thanks again to all who entered!
In Memory of John Semander
It is with deep sadness that the TGA announces the passing of John Semander. Semander gave selflessly of his time, energy and resources to promote golf in Texas for many years. His contributions to the game of golf are immeasurable and have impacted the state’s entire golfing community. The longtime TGA volunteer and Past Director passed away on July 27. He was 89 years old.
Semander was a gentle spirit who didn’t know a stranger. He seemed to be friends with everyone and had a warm-hearted story to share about each one to back it up. The Houston native was recognized numerous times for his steadfast dedication and efforts in helping the TGA.
He was the recipient of the 2005 South Texas Volunteer of the Year Award and the 2009 Bob Wells Distinguished Service Award, the TGA’s highest honor for individuals who’ve contributed to the growth of the game through their volunteerism and meritorious service.
In addition to duties as a TGA Director, Semander also served as a member of the TGA Rules Committee, as well as the USGA Junior Amateur Committee.
In 2010, Semander captained the South Texas team to victory in the Texas Shootout held at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands.
The longtime Shell employee was also very active with the Houston Golf Association among other pursuits.
In 2017, the TGA established the John Semander Family Scholarship to financially assist golfers who are seeking higher education. Semander’s dedication, character and lifelong connection to golf were attributes that the scholarship program endeavored to honor and encourage in the next generation of golfers.
The TGA mourns the loss of John Semander and sends its condolences to his family and friends.
The Spirit Golf Association Announces Appointment of Charlie Epps, PGA, as Interim President
HOUSTON, Texas (August 20, 2020) – The Spirit Golf Association (SGA) announced today that long-time PGA Professional Charlie Epps will serve as interim president. Epps has served on the SGA Board of Directors since January 2020.
The Spirit Golf Association, a 501 (c) (3) charity dedicated to the promotion of amateur golf for the benefit of health-related causes, was formed in 1999 by Houston philanthropist Corby J. Robertson, Jr. Corby established the SGA and Whispering Pines Golf Club, rated by Golf Digest as the #1 course in Texas, as a mission for philanthropically minded people to support charitable causes, enjoy membership privileges at a world-class golf property and to conduct The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship.
“We are so fortunate to have Charlie step into this role after being an invaluable member of our Board of Directors and take the reins as we continue our charitable missions and promoting the international goodwill of amateur golf,” said Robertson. “Right now we’re focusing heavily on our recently created Spirit Food Fund, and Charlie has been instrumental in helping us raise more than $1.35 million for the food insecure. He brings years of unmatched experience and expertise in the golf industry and will continue to be a great asset to our organization.”
As interim president, Epps will be responsible for executing the mission and vision of the SGA, in addition to recruiting members to Whispering Pines and sponsors for SGA events while achieving the financial and managerial objectives of the association.
“I’ve been involved in a volunteer capacity with the Spirit Golf Association since the beginning,” said Epps. “I share Corby’s passion for golf in addition to giving back through the game. I look forward to continuing to grow our organization and coordinating events that have a positive impact on our Texas communities.”
Epps, a member of the teaching staff at Golf Club of Houston, has always been committed to giving back to the game of golf, especially in the development of young players. He spent 15 years as the Head Professional at Houston Country Club and six years Pine Forest Country Club.
In his service to the PGA of America and the game, he has held positions of prominence on local, state and national leadership boards and committees gaining him recognition as the recipient of numerous PGA and Southern Texas PGA awards and honors. He was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 2012 for his work as a club professional and golf instructor.
He and his friend, the late Dick Harmon, partnered to provide opportunities for young players to develop their game. He founded the Yellowstone Academy Foundation Golf Tournament to raise funds to help Houston’s inner-city kids gain access to golf. He also helps organize the Dick Harmon Memorial Invitational along with numerous other charity events.
On the PGA Tour, Epps coached two-time Major Championship winner Angel Cabrera and five-time Tour winner Blaine McCallister. Epps is currently featured weekly on the Charlie Epps Golf Hour which airs nationally on the SportsMap Nation Radio Network Saturdays 8-9 a.m. CT (97.5 FM in Houston).
Whispering Pines Golf Club is currently undergoing construction and is on track to reopen in fall 2020. Just 80 miles north of Houston along the shores of Lake Livingston sits Whispering Pines Golf Club, one of the best private golf clubs in the country. The club was founded not only to offer its discerning members a superior golf experience on an exceptional course, but it also was created to promote amateur golf and to benefit charitable causes on a local, national and international level. Whispering Pines is ranked #1 in Texas and was recently ranked #21 in the top 200 modern courses in the country by Golfweek.
TGA Foundation Finding New Ways to Grow the Game
The Texas Golf Association Foundation strives to grow the game through new initiatives every year. In 2020, the TGA Foundation launched Youth on Course in the San Antonio area. The program gives juniors access to play golf for $5 or less at eight courses in San Antonio.
“We love this program because it gives junior golfers a chance to take their skills from The First Tee, LPGA*USGA Girls Golf and more junior programs to the course and continue to learn the game,” TGA Foundation Managing Director Kelly Kilgo said. “Youth on Course helps to make golf a big part of their lives because now they can go play fantastic courses for no more than a $5 green fee.”
The eight courses in San Antonio participating in this year’s Youth of Course program are Mission Del Lago, Riverside, Willow Springs, Brackenridge Park, Olmos Basin, Northern Hills Golf Club, Cedar Creek and San Pedro Driving Range.
Founded in 2006 by the Northern California Golf Association, Youth on Course began as way to increase the accessibility and affordability of golf for the area’s youth. Within five years, the program was thriving and expanded as a nationwide initiative. Today, the 501(c)3 organization partners with state and regional golf associations across the country. Youth on Course is currently offered in 34 regions and has subsidized more than 900,000 rounds of golf.
“Investing in the future and health of the game is exactly what the TGA is built for and Youth on Course allows us to accomplish this with juniors, families and golf facilities,” TGA Executive Director Stacy Dennis said. “Youth on Course provides juniors with an opportunity to take the next step from skill development programs to access on a golf course. It creates relationships between juniors, their parents and local golf facilities. This program creates a pipeline of juniors that can continue to build confidence on the golf course and become lifelong players.”
Youth on Course memberships are $20 a year. The membership gives access to the eight courses in San Antonio as well as internships, caddie program and scholarships. The program is designed for youth ages 6-18 and there are zero restrictions on when to join.
To learn more about Youth on Course, click here.
The TGA Foundation started its own initiative in 2016. The TGA Works Program gives high schoolers who are interested in working in the golf industry opportunities to intern at various Member Clubs across the state. TGA Works is a paid summer internship and offers invaluable lessons on and off the golf course.
“Throughout the TGA Works internship, I learned the ins and outs of the golf business,” said Cade Cook, who worked at Indian Creek Golf Club in Carrollton last summer. “The internship opened my mind to so many new things and persuaded me toward a career in the golf business even more.”
The program strives to introduce motivated youth to respected careers in the golf industry. It helps clubs invest in their local communities and grow the game. Member Clubs, who offer internships, will receive up to $3,000 in grant funding to offset intern wages.
Along with Indian Creek Golf Club, Quail Valley Golf Course in Missouri City and Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth had TGA Works interns last summer. Responsibilities ranged from tournament operations, golf course agronomy, merchandise management, outside services and golf instruction.
To apply for a TGA Works internship, click here. Application deadline is May 15.
ABOUT THE TGA FOUNDATION: The charitable arm of the TGA, is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that was established to make certain that golf in Texas continues to grow and prosper. It achieves this mission through the financial and administrative support of existing grass-roots junior golf development programs, and in creating new avenues for deserving and underserved youth to learn some of life’s most important lessons through their exposure to the game of golf. By ensuring that deserving young people from every walk-of-life have the opportunity to be exposed to this great game and the accompanying valuable life lessons to be learned, as well as discovering the many possible career opportunities surrounding the sport, the TGA Foundation expects that golf in the Lone Star State will be in good hands for generations to come. To learn more about the TGA Foundation, click here.
TGA Partners With Spirit Golf Association to Launch Spirit Food Fund
DALLAS – The Texas Golf Association (TGA) is pleased to announce it has recently partnered with The Spirit Golf Association (SGA) in its Spirit Food Fund campaign to support the Houston Food Bank (HFB) as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Houston community, there is currently a 130%-150% increase in demand over the 1.1 million food insecure people who are relying on the HFB and its partner network for food assistance. The Houston Food Bank is responding by increasing food distribution by 150% of usual operations, distributing on average 1 million pounds of food a day. This unprecedented need means millions of dollars in additional funding are required to keep Houstonians healthy and fed.
SGA is launching the Spirit Food Fund campaign with a lead gift of $500,000 raised from SGA founder Corby Robertson, Jr., and his family, as well as The Cullen Foundation and the Cullen Trust for Higher Education. Prominent supporters of the campaign include local sports celebrities Jim Nantz, Stacy Lewis and Clyde Drexler along with the TGA. Watch Video
“We’re grateful to be able to partner with the great people at the Houston Food Bank to support fellow Texans in need,” said Robertson. “It is our responsibility to be there for our neighbors and communities.”
The SGA is not only mobilizing the golf community, but the greater Houston community as well, with plans to expand its mission throughout the state of Texas and beyond in support of those who are most vulnerable at this critical time. A $10 donation will provide 30 meals to families and individuals struggling to make ends meet.
“The significant support from The Spirit Golf Association will add critically needed funds to allow us to work to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for food assistance created by COVID-19,” says Brian Greene, president/CEO of Houston Food Bank. “With our distribution up 150% over pre-COVID figures and demand continuing to grow, our need for funding and volunteers increases daily. With tens of thousands of people out of work – for many this is the first time they need assistance – and kids who get meals at school now at home, the generous support from donors like The Spirit Golf Association will make a significant impact upon what we can do for our many neighbors in need.”
To make a financial contribution to the Spirit Food Fund or to sign up and volunteer with the Houston Food Bank, please visit houstonfoodbank.org/spiritfoodfund or text SpiritFoodFund to 41444 with your donation. Funds will be used for food recovery, sorting and distribution, as well as the creation of Emergency Food Boxes for families.
WHAT: The Spirit Food Fund to benefit the Houston Food Bank
WHEN: Beginning Thursday, May 14, 2020
WHERE: Houston and Surrounding Communities
Donate or signup to volunteer at the Houston Food Bank: houstonfoodbank.org/spiritfoodfund. Other ways to donate:
- Text SpiritFoodFund to 41444
- Mail Check (Include “Spirit Food Fund” in memo line), payable to Houston Food Fund to Houston Food Bank, 535 Portwall, Houston, TX 77029
- Contact Donor Services at 713-547-8623
- The Spirit Golf Association (SGA) led by Corby and Barbara Robertson along with local sports celebrities
- Cullen Foundation
- The Cullen Trust for Higher Education
- Texas Golf Association
About The Spirit Golf Association | The Spirit Golf Association (SGA) is a 501 (c) (3) charity dedicated to the promotion of amateur golf for the benefit of supporting basic human needs for providing food, education and health programs and services. The SGA is the host organization of the premier amateur golf championship, The Spirit International, and home to Whispering Pines Golf Club, ranked by Golfweek as the #1 course in Texas and #24 on its top 100 modern courses list. The SGA has contributed more than $13 million to its charitable activities: The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship and healthcare service providers such as Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinics, Medical Bridges and The Immunization Partnership. In 2017, The Spirit Golf Association responded to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by directing funds to Harvey victims through the United Way, Houston Food Bank, KIPP, Yellowstone Academy and the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinics.
For more information about The Spirit Golf Association, please visit spiritgolfassociation.org.
About Houston Food Bank | Houston Food Bank’s mission is to provide food for better lives. Last year we provided access to 104 million nutritious meals in 18 counties in southeast Texas through our 1,500 community partners which includes food pantries, soup kitchens, social service providers and schools. We have a strong focus on healthy foods and fresh produce. In addition to distributing food, we provide services and connections to programs that address the root causes of hunger and are aimed at helping families achieve long-term stability, including nutrition education, job training, health management and help with securing state-funded assistance. We are a resource for individuals and families in times of hardship. We are a solution to food waste, working with grocery stores and growers to rescue food before it reaches landfills. In collaboration with our community, we advocate for policy change and promote dialogue on ways to increase access to food and to improve the lives of those we serve. Houston Food Bank works alongside our partner food banks in Montgomery County, Galveston Country, and Brazos Valley. Houston Food Bank is a certified member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
TGA Grants Help The First Tee of The Piney Woods Expand Program
The Texas Golf Association Foundation, the chartiable arm of the TGA, recognized The First Tee of The Piney Woods with both the Bill Penn and Winners’ Program Grants in June. Fast forward five months, and the East Texas youth organization’s commitment to growing the game through junior golf has continued to expand. The First Tee of The Piney Woods used the TGA funds to launch development programs in two new cities, host cost-free clinics for kids and draw up plans to renovate the sixth green at The First Tee Wee Links in Longview.
“These grants allowed us to do some things we would have never been able to do,” The First Tee of The Piney Woods Executive Director Jay Blint said.
The Winners’ Program, now in its 11th year, is a golf-and-grades initiative of the TGA Foundation in partnership with the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf of Texas Chapters. The program was created in 2008 to promote achievement in golf and in the classroom. Girls are encouraged to make good grades and turn in their report cards throughout the year. Over the years, each of the six Texas chapters, including Piney Woods, has been a recipient of a Winners’ Program Grant.
The Bill Penn Grant, established in 2003, supports golf-related community outreach programs. Named after the TGA’s first full-time Executive Director, the Bill Penn Grant is awarded annually to eligible programs that provide local-level instruction, develop golf skills for juniors and introduce disadvantaged kids to the game. By making the sport more accessible for young people, Bill Penn Grant recipients serve the mission of the TGA Foundation by ensuring that the game of golf grows and prospers.
“The First Tee of The Piney Woods is a great example of the kinds of programs the TGA Foundation is looking to support,” TGA Foundation Managing Director Kelly Kilgo said. “They reach hundreds of kids and many of them stick with the program and continue to pursue the game of the golf.”
In 2019, The First Tee of The Piney Woods expanded its youth development program to the Hallsville Texas Boys and Girls Club. This allowed 29 kids between the ages of 7-12 to attend four weeks of golf clinics. Many of the kids experienced swinging a golf club for the first time.
One month later, The First Tee of The Piney Woods launched a new program at The Tempest Golf Club in Gladewater. The initiative gave access to a completely different group of kids and expanded The First Tee’s exposure.
“The Tempest Golf Club is probably one of the nicest courses in East Texas,” Blint said. “It’s a totally different clientele and we would have never been able to reach those people without the expansion. We now hit both ends of the economic spectrum.”
The funding also allowed the chapter to host a 100-percent cost-free, two-hour clinic for youths new to the game. Every kid who attended received a golf club following the event and many of the kids signed up for future clinics. The First Tee of The Piney Woods plans to hold similar events multiple times every year.
In October, The First Tee of The Piney Woods sent 24 golfers along with several First Tee coaches to play in a benefit event for the Texas Wounded Warriors at The Cascades Golf Club in Tyler. The First Tee kids partnered with players from the Wounded Warrior Program and opened the eyes of those who attended. According to Blint, it was a life changing event for the youth and their Wounded Warrior partners.
“Everybody’s life got changed that day,” Blint said. “It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences and it wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have the extra money.”
The First Tee of The Piney Woods will continue expanding with the goal to reach at least 500 kids in 2020. The chapter plans to make some changes at home as well. Some of the grant funds will go toward the renovation of the sixth green at The First Tee Wee Links at the Longview Boys and Girls Club.
“It had some flooding last spring and the green is washed out,” Blint said. “We are going to do a permanent fix so the kids will always have a complete course to play especially with the addition of the older kids.”
Next year, the program in Longview will include players ages 13-17. The First Tee of The Piney Woods previously has been limited to children ages 12 and under as part of the Boys and Girls Club. The Drive 360 Program, targeted at the 13-17 age group, has opened the door for The First Tee of The Piney Woods to attract many more kids in the community.
“The money of being able to teach the younger kids and get that program off the ground has opened the door for even more expansion next year,” Blint said.
For more information about the Bill Penn Grant, Winners’ Program and TGA Foundation, click here.