During the 2016 Ryder Cup held at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., The First Tee of the Twin Cities located in St. Paul hosted a private luncheon with special guest Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA TOUR. One of the chapter’s outstanding participants, Parker Reddig, was given the opportunity to speak to the guests about his how The First Tee taught him perseverance and how that core value has shaped his life.
I started playing golf from the time I could walk.
“Rain, shine, cold or snow, I found a way to hit balls. My parents knew at an early age I had a unique passion for a game, that, quite frankly, they knew very little about.
Being a young Midwestern kid in a state that lives and breathes hockey and other sports like baseball or football, I was quickly out on an island in terms of having friends to enjoy, play and practice golf with. It actually got to the point that I was being teased about what I loved to do as early as kindergarten. My friends did not understand my love for the game.
My parents came across The First Tee chapter in St. Paul and signed me up for the summer classes. Little did I know, at the young age of 6, that this would have such a major impact on my life.
Fast forward to today.
Looking back and being able to understand life lessons, I want to share what The First Tee has really meant to me.
Sure, the program and my instructors taught me about putting, chipping and hitting balls, but the real value I will take with me for the rest of my life are the Nine Core Values and the opportunities The First Tee has provided me through the years.
Of the Nine Core Values I was taught, I feel that perseverance has, and will continue have, the greatest impact for me into my adult life. Perseverance is having the ability to persist and succeed in the face of obstacles and adversity. To do this, you need to have confidence and believe in yourself. Not only are these the situations we all face in every round of golf we play, it is experienced everyday of our lives.
How i use PERSEVERANCE in my life
Growing up in a snow-covered state loving a game that you can only play four months a year was the beginning of my lesson in perseverance. Now I use it:
- Doing my nightly homework
- Learning challenging subjects in school
- Helping friends and family when in need
- And, most recently, writing and giving my senior speech (on perseverance) in front of 400 students and faculty
Through The First Tee, I was fortunate enough to have been a junior on-course reporter for my chapter at the 3M Championship, a PGA TOUR Champions event. I also attended the 2013 The First Tee Life Skills & Leadership Academy in San Diego where we not only worked on our game but also learned even more about how to apply the Nine Core Values to everyday life.
Lastly, I need to share the most important and lasting memory The First Tee has given me.
I was selected to play in the 2013 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach where junior golfers were paired with a PGA TOUR Champions player. My main goal was to have fun, but I also really wanted to make the cut.
Only the top 23 teams of 81 would tee off on Sunday. After Day 1, my partner, Jeff Sluman, and I sat pretty far outside that cut line at 1 under par. I could feel that goal and dream slipping away and knew we needed a strong Day 2. By the end of day two we climbed the leaderboard and found ourselves shooting 11 under par as a team that day and sitting in 2nd place.
I found myself being announced on the first tee box, in front of a large crowd of spectators in the final round of a professional event at Pebble Beach on Sunday. This was another lesson in confidence and perseverance. I achieved my goal, which in turn created a dream come true.
What DOEs this all add up to?
On November 9, 2016, I will sign my official national letter of intent to attend and play college golf at Florida State University.
Thanks to The First Tee and a long road of perseverance, this life goal has been achieved.”