by Bethany Brown
Rayshon Payton, 26, an alumnus from The First Tee of Metropolitan Oklahoma City, remembers watching the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on TV in 2000. From that point on, Payton dreamed of playing on that gorgeous course one day himself. This ambitious dream became a reality in 2005 when he was selected as one of the junior golfers to play in The First Tee Open where he was paired with Champions Tour player Gil Morgan.
“It was the most amazing golf course experience I have ever had,” recalled Payton.
Reflecting on the impact The First Tee Open had on his life, Payton said, “It truly taught me that if you wake up every day and work towards a goal, that your dreams could come true.”
Payton’s most memorable moment from the tournament was when he holed out from the bunker on the 13th hole. This incredible shot was captured on camera during the televised event—watch the video clip of the extraordinary shot!
Just one year after his experience at Pebble Beach, Payton was designated as one of The First Tee Scholars in 2006. As The First Tee Scholar, he was selected to address Congress at The First Tee Congressional Breakfast and inform them of the powerful impact The First Tee has had on his life and the lives of young people across the United States.
After golfing alongside professionals at Pebble Beach and addressing the U.S. Congress, some might feel content in their accomplishments, but not Payton. He attributes the leadership and life skills he learned during his years at The First Tee for shaping him into the person he is today. Payton uses honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment every day as he works to pursue his dream of becoming the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
On his way to achieving his dream, Payton interned at The White House, working in The White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs where he had the opportunity to work with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.
“You have to believe in yourself,” he explains. “Believe in your goal. Think about what you want in life. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”