Esther Etherington Receives State Honor

Richmond High School senior and longtime First Tee participant Esther Etherington was honored on October 8, 2021 as the winner of the annual Mitchel J. Winger award. The award is given annually by the Indiana High School Golf Coaches Association to a varsity golfer who “contributes to the success of their team despite a physical impairment or medical condition.  Read more about Esther and her journey at HERE.

Sam Roberts Becomes Indiana’s First ACE Level Participant

Hear from Sam about his journey to First Tee’s highest achievement.

When I joined the First Tee program, I thought it was for beginners. I was already a golfer and former Gongaware Academy camp participant, and I didn’t understand what First Tee was all about. After some convincing from my parents, I reluctantly attended my first class. To my surprise, I learned that First Tee offered various levels for golfers to advance through with the goal of achieving Ace status – the highest level offered in the program, and a level no participant had yet achieved in Indiana. 

Achieving Ace status quickly became my goal, and before long, I was hooked on the First Tee! Unlike other sports programs, First Tee taught me so much more than just golf skills. It taught me the importance of character, developed my confidence, and made me want to be the best version of myself. I also started performing a lot better academically and became valedictorian of my Centerville High School class.

I spent about eight years advancing through all of First Tee’s skill levels. The Ace Level focuses on personal planning and reinforces skills like self-management, goal setting, and interpersonal communication. Using these skills, I had to complete four projects that would help me in college and in my future career. Project topics included: Community Service, Career, College, and Golf.

In 2020, I did it! I became the first and only participant to ever achieve Ace Level status in Indiana. This was such a humbling experience for me, and it was awesome to know that the hard work I put into the program really paid off. Being the “first” is not something you hear often, and I’m very proud. I now consider myself to be an advocate for Indiana Golf and First Tee-Indiana.

After completing the First Tee program, I went on to become a coach at First Tee-Indiana in Richmond, alongside my former coaches, Bob Van Pelt and Sam Witherby. My favorite part of coaching has been seeing my players continuously improve, no matter their skill level.

I also joined the men’s golf team at IU East and have been fortunate to make the Dean’s List every semester since starting my college career. In 2020, I was also the recipient of the Male Lingle Scholar Award for outstanding freshman.

If it weren’t for my parents’ encouragement, I never would have joined the First Tee
program. To my coaches – thank you for believing in me and for teaching me so much
more than just how to improve my golf game.

Watch Sam Roberts’ Full Interview Video

The Golf Channel

In 2016, we were featured on The Golf Channel’s Morning Drive as part of their #ThxPGAPro 100 year celebration. Check out the video below of our program and one of our participants, Jacey Cornett.