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George Waters Spotlight: First Tee Twin Cities

December 1, 2016

Along with First Tee of South Dakota, the First Tee Twin Cities program based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul was also selected as a recipient of a George Waters Memorial Grant.

Similar to most First Tee programs, The First Tee of the Twin Cites carries out a character education program that is taught through the game of golf.

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“The kids are learning golf, but not only that, they are applying the character skills we teach to their everyday lives,” said First Tee of Twin Cities Executive Director, Brian Simpson. Integrity, honesty and respect are just a few of the nine core values taught through the First Tee program.”

First Tee St. Paul began in 2005 before eventually merging with First Tee Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation to form The First Tee of the Twin Cities. Since then, the program has 14 golf course locations across the Minneapolis and St. Paul area to date. In addition to the numerous golf courses hosting, the program has made its way into local schools. As a part of the National School Program, the First Tee Twin Cities loans resources to schools in the area as well as part of Wisconsin.

“We give schools and their Physical Education instructors what we call our SNAG (Starting New At Golf) equipment and each teacher will introduce the kids to golf and incorporate the core values in their lesson plan,” Simpson explained.

“We have 15 schools with about 500 kids per school that are introduced to the game of golf on a yearly basis,” he added.

And that is in addition to the 14 courses that host children and kids on a weekly basis.

Kids of many different abilities, backgrounds and ethnicities, primarily ages 4-12, participate in the program. The program, as a whole, acts as a mentorship education as many of the past participants continue to stay involved once they reach their early teens but more so in a leadership role.

Another unique aspect of the First Tee is that they are able to help grant person(s) scholarships, full and partial, on a yearly basis dependent upon their academic success, involvement in First Tee and golf career thus far.

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“Five years ago, when we were the First Tee St. Paul, a young girl in the program received a full scholarship to New York University,” Simpson said. “That was a really cool moment in the program.”

Each class begins with a 5-10 minute warm-up usually consisting of some sort of meet and greet with the kids or an ice breaker to erase any anxiousness. After that they go into an introduction of a specific golf skill whether it be grip, posture, set-up, etc. They use the golf exercise to teach the game while incorporating the core value or life skill for the day which takes up most of the session. At the end of the class, they review the core value and discuss how they can use it for the rest of the day and beyond.

“The money from this year’s grant went to fund the special needs outreach program that wouldn’t be possible without it,” he said. “The grant gives kids with special needs that normally wouldn’t have an opportunity to play, the chance to. It gives us extra staffing and the ability to let them play free of charge, too.”

Simpson also expressed gratitude toward his peers in the Section, “it also wouldn’t be possible without the help of the twenty-some Minnesota PGA Professionals involved with the program or administer lessons through First Tee.”

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

2016 November Publication

November 23, 2016

Here is the 2016 November Publication for the Minnesota Section PGA.

Content includes:

  • New Members & Employment Changes
  • Minnesota Golf License Plate
  • Minnesota PGA Fall Scramble
  • Minnesota PGA Season Long 4-Ball Match Play Championship
  • Minnesota PGA Luther Tour Championship
  • Minnesota PGA Facility Team Championship
  • Minnesota PGA Fall Meeting Notes
  • Minnesota Section PGA Award Winners
  • Minnesota Section PGA Players of the Year

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

Don Berry Finishes T-4 at Senior PGA Professional Championship, Claims Senior Player of the Year Honors

November 22, 2016

Don Berry of Edinburgh USA was one of seven Minnesota Section qualifiers that traveled to Port St. Lucie, FL for the 28th Senior PGA Professional Championship this past weekend.

As he usually does, Berry made it count by finishing T-4 at 9-under and qualifying for his fifth straight Senior PGA Championship; not to mention every year he has been eligible, he has qualified. The 2017 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid will be played at Trump National Golf Club, Washington D.C., in Potomac Falls, Virginia on May 25-28, 2017.

28th Senior PGA Professional Championship Presented by GolfAdvisor & Mercedes-Benz

Don Berry hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of Senior PGA Professional Championship (Photo by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America)

Berry was fantastic all weekend. He never posted an over-par round in the four days, and his tournament was highlighted by a 5-under 67 on day two that put him in the hunt at 8-under—two shots back of the leader.

“I really hit the ball well,” said Berry, who was named 2016 Senior Player of the Year following this past weekend’s performance. “I hit 16 greens the first three days and 15 greens the last day. I was very consistently in good shape putting for birdies which limited my changes for bogey.”

Although he couldn’t best his finish from the 2013 Senior PGA Professional National Championship in which he finished second, he embraces the competition at the top of the leaderboard with the nation’s best Senior PGA Professionals.

“It’s very stressful off the course, don’t really get great sleep, think about it too much,” stressed Berry, who finds himself in this position time and time again. “When playing, it’s just a round of golf and I don’t feel as anxious. Fun though.”

This marks the fifth straight Senior Player of the Year title. Five straight seems to be a reoccurring theme for Berry this season as he continues to flourish in the Senior division. Berry finished 140.50 points ahead of Dale Jones of Mendakota Country Club.

Berry is chomping at the bit to get to Washington D.C. to compete against the best in the world.

“This will be my fifth in a row, really looking forward to it already,” he emphasized. “The venue is going to be fun; Trump National in Washington D.C. while he is the President! I’ll bet there will be a lot of energy.”

“I have made the cut in 3 of the 4 years I’ve played in it, so I know I can compete out there,” he added.

What will it take for Berry to have a chance come that final Sunday you ask,

“I just really need to putt better than I normally do. A good putting week, and I feel like I can contend or at least be part of the conversation.”

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

George Waters Spotlight: First Tee of South Dakota “Golf in the Schools”

November 21, 2016

First Tee of South Dakota was also chosen as one of the six recipients of a George Waters Memorial Grant for their “Golf in the Schools” program.

The mission of the program is to develop and engage youth in the game of golf as well as provide educational opportunities in the form of golf such as teaching healthy habits and core values.

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“This program includes a wide demographic of participants ages 4 to 17,” said Coralee Jorgensen, Golf Administrator at First Tee of South Dakota. “Whether that be kids with special needs or scholarship needs. All youth are welcome.”

With the participants being beginners through and through, each class started in a different direction than most golf teaching sessions. They warm up and learn a core value word of the day; for example, on day the word would be respect.

“We ask them questions, involving the word of the day, along the lines of how can you respect yourself?” emphasized Jorgensen. “This teaches them about the word and then it translates to golf in how they can respect parts of this great game.”

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At the conclusion of the class, the coach will bring the kids and go over what they learned today. They will revisit what the core value means and how they can use that word for the rest of the day through discussion.

“The program finished its ninth year now,” Jorgensen said. “We started with 227 kids and now we have well over 1,200 participants. The grant was such a gift, we used the money to pay for three golf professionals to teach and to use different schools for locations where PE teachers teach the curriculum.”

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

George Waters Spotlight: Edina High School “Golf in the Schools”

November 16, 2016

One of the programs chosen to receive a George Waters Memorial Grant this year was Edina High School’s “Golf in the Schools” program.

The mission of the Edina Schools golf program is to acclimate golf into the physical education curriculum. By doing this, they are teaching the students the golf swing, short game technique, and other related, relevant information about the game of golf.

“These kids come in having never thought about the game of golf and would never have picked up a club had it not been for this program,” said Joe Greupner, Head Golf Professional at Braemar Golf Course. “They then leave actually having some resemblance of a golf swing.”

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Hitting stalls in the Braemar Golf Dome where students from Edina High School had golf sessions.

Edina pays the bus expenses for the students to get to the dome for a one hour class. The school sends six classes per day, three times a week for each class. Golf equipment is shared between the school and Braemar Dome. Each student has an individual hitting stall with unlimited golf balls where they await instruction from the four golf instructors Joe Greupner, George Reynolds, Mike Diebold and Phil Phanager.

Full ball striking swing drills are taught to the students with review of the other fundamentals previously learned in each session. Short game skills, putting and chipping are the principle parts of the instruction. Another point of emphasis is where to play, cost of playing and junior programs as resources for involvement with golf outside of the sessions. More than half of the class expressed significant interest and desire to play in the summer.

The funds given through the George Waters program have been instrumental in the development of the program.

“The money from the grant really made the program what it is. It allowed us to pay for busing for the kids and for more instructors which has given us the ability to affect and teach more students,” Greupner said.

Not only that, there has been great feedback and reinforcement from the school about their new golf program.

“The gym teachers come over raving about how the kids love the program. They are talking about golf and how they want to continue to play golf.”

“It makes it even better that the kids are so appreciative. They are always thanking the instructors and are grateful for the instruction they have received,” added Greupner.

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

Jeff Sorenson Wins 2016 Player of the Year

November 10, 2016

Jeff Sorenson of The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, Minn. is the 2016 Section Player of the Year. Sorenson had a great season claiming his fifth career Player of the Year honor (2008-2010, 2012) and his first since 2012. His season included three first place finishes and a Minnesota PGA Match Play title over Don Berry.

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“It feels good, it’s been four years now since I’ve won it,” he said. “It’s a goal of mine every year to win it, but it’s been tough over the last few years.”

“Anytime you can get past both Don and Brent, it’s an accomplishment,” he added.

The win over Berry helped propel Sorenson to Player of the Year honors while a loss would have opened the door for Berry to win his third consecutive award. Other notable finishes for Jeff were the following: a Top 3 finish at the Minnesota PGA Professional Championship, a Top 7 finish at the Minnesota State Open, T-6 finish at the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am and sixth place finish at the Minnesota Golf Champions.

“I felt like it was a good year. My goal was to get to ten tournament wins, and I only got to eight; but overall, it was good,” said Sorenson.

Congratulations on a great season and winning Section Player of the Year, Jeff.

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

Kristi Meyer Wins 2016 Women’s Player of the Year

November 10, 2016

Kristi Meyer of Wayzata Country Club in Wayzata, Minn. is the 2016 Women’s Player of the Year. This award is given to the most outstanding women player in the Section who accumulates the highest point total based on their performance in Section-eligible tournaments throughout the season.

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“I would say that my playing highlights of the season were getting the chance to play in both the Women’s Tapemark and Women’s State Open.” Meyer said. “I haven’t been able to play in those events before due to my schedule, and I felt really good about my game in both events.”

Meyer, in the award’s third year of existence, won by an impressive 305.50 points over Angie Ause of Oak Marsh Golf Club. She started the season a little slow but finished the season with three Top 10 finishes including an eighth place finish at the 2016 Minnesota Women’s State Open.

For this award winner, her achievements go beyond her playing ability.

“One of my goals of being in the golf business is to help grow the game among women and younger girls. I was very lucky to have a supportive family who helped me to thrive within the game when I was growing up,” she explained. “I would love the chance to be that mentor to any young girls.”

Oh, and for all those young girls looking to get into the golf industry, Kristi has a special message for you.

“My advice would be to surround yourself with supportive people who challenge you to be your very best. Don’t hesitate to get involved in the golf business or the sport in general because you are intimidated by your surroundings, but instead jump in with both feet. There are a lot of remarkable and supportive people within the game that will help you grow and succeed at whatever your goal may be.”

Congratulations on a great season and winning Women’s Player of the Year, Kristi.

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.