Written by Royce Thompson
Media Relations Specialist, PGA TOUR
Talk about a reason to rise before the sun. Earlier this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Ahmen Williams and Raymond Frequez, junior golfers from The First Tee of Phoenix, were busy before sunrise with the Careers on Course program at TPC Scottsdale.
John Deere, in partnership with The First Tee and the PGA TOUR, has pledged $1 million over five years to create this initiative which will provide young people with a unique, inside-the-ropes, youth development opportunity to shadow golf course superintendents as they ready courses for official PGA TOUR events. The goal is to educate teens with hands-on experience and leadership skills as they prepare for a career in golf course management.
Hugh Smith, Executive Director of The First Tee of Phoenix, believes that programs such as Careers on Course encompass everything that The First Tee is about.
“I think today is what The First Tee is all about, and that is creating opportunities for our members that don’t just deal with playing the game of golf,” Smith said. “John Deere, the PGA TOUR, the Phoenix Thunderbirds, the Waste Management staff and the grounds crew here at TPC Scottsdale came together to make this opportunity available for these guys.”
Frequez, who has attended the Waste Management Phoenix Open once before with his father, cherished the chance to go behind the scenes for a better understanding of all that goes into the preparation process.
“I learned about everything they go through to start the day,” said the 17 year-old Fresquez. “It was really cool to see how they look at every aspect of the grass to make sure it was in the right spot, so it was a pretty interesting day.”
Williams, at 13 years old, relished the details that go along with the job, including the process of finding a flat surface on the greens to cut a hole. He also learned of how frost affects the firmness of the rough.
An added opportunity for Williams was the chance to talk with PGA TOUR pros David Lynn and Martin Kaymer during their practice round. The real highlight of his day, he admitted, was interacting with the staff of TPC Scottsdale.
“They’re really fun guys,” Williams said. “They have their humor and joke around. They are regular people, but when it comes to doing the job they do it. It was just really fun going through all of this and meeting new people.”
Jeff Plott, TPC Scottsdale Superintendent, mentored the young men as they went through the morning, which included greens and fairways being mowed, checking for frost and green-speed measurement.
“Their involvement in golf is awesome,” Plott said. “It just shows their commitment to golf and their willingness to learn about what we do. The First Tee is just a great program and I’m just glad to be a small part of it.”