WITH BIG FOOTPRINTS THE FUTURE IS IN GOOD HANDS
Two weeks from this morning Travelers Championship week officially opens with ceremonies at the first tee at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. The Travelers Championship, the largest single annual sporting event in the state, is just the centerpiece of Travelers Championship month. While the main event, in the second half of June, showcases the current stars of the sport of golf, the opening event of the month is all about the future, not just the future of golf, but the future for all of us, and the early indication from the tee off event to Travelers Championship month is that the future is in great hands. With Travelers Championship officials on hand as a demonstration of the link between golf at the pro level and golf at it’s purest beginnings, the annual First Tee Connecticut Classic was played at the TPC River Highlands. It teams foursomes with local celebrities in fun competition to raise money for the First Tee and it’s programs, with title sponsor Premier Limo, Webster Financial Advisors, Walmart and Stanley Black and Decker topping a long list of contributors who have seen first hand the results of The First Tee and the character it’s programs instill in young people. It’s about golf, but it’s about so much more, scholarship, with after school study programs at the beautiful new First Tee facility at the TPC River Highlands, life skills, through experience based on the nine core values of First Tee, honesty, integrity, respect, sponsorship, courtesy, judgement, confidence, responsibility and perserverence, and citizenship, on display as First Tee members greeted the golfers and accompanied them around the course as drivers for the celebrities and fore caddies for the fivesomes. With a smile and an extended hand they introduced themselves as they manned various holes to take tee shots for the groups and track closest to the pin tee shots at the par threes. Albert and Tom, Jonathan and Ashley, Ronnie and Demetre, Jack, Jason and Christian. It was a pleasure to meet them all, bright young lights learning to cast a brilliant glow on the stage of life. They were the focus of a day full of activities that brought out the best in some of the highest profile personalities in the state, on hand to lend a hand to a program they all believe in. Jim Calhoun and his successor, Kevin Ollie, showing as much admiration for the youth on display as that youth showed for them. Suzie Whalley, always the inspriration for young girls everywhere, always the teacher, life lessons and golf lessons. Nathan Grube, Ted May and Roger Gelfenbein, who’s names and community profiles define the Travelers Championship and it’s committment to The First Tee Connecticut while they decline their celebrity status and deflect any talk of their heroic efforts that kept our state on the PGA Tour. Chris Dailey and new hall of famer Jen Rizzotti, examples of the best women’s basketball has to offer nationwide, right here in our own back yard. All of them supporting the tireless, year round work of David Polk, the day to day backbone of the program. Traveler’s Championship month is underway in Connecticut. It teed off yesterday with the future on display at the TPC River Highlands, planting some very big footprints for the pro golfers to follow in when the month’s premier event tees off on the same course. Footprints are never bigger than those of young people willing to face the future and lead the way. That’s what The First Tee is all about. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.