Written by Cole Chastain
September 25-29, 2018 I had the privileged of representing The First Tee of Central Florida at The Pure Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee. The week was amazing, filled with lots surprises, fun people, great golf, and majestic scenery. After registration Tuesday morning at the renowned Pebble Beach course, I played a practice round with other participants from around the country representing their The First Tee Chapters at the Poppy Hills Course.
Tuesday evening the participants were surprised at a welcome party and concert with a TaylorMade embroidered golf bag and was introduced to our PGA Champion. I was matched with Wes Short Jr. and was hopeful with his record on the tour we could propel ourselves towards a great weekend and make the cut for Sunday. I also participated in a putting competition, which I would found out Friday night I won by 3 stokes.
Wednesday, I played my first round of golf at the World-renowned Pebble Beach, in a word “Majestic”. That night, I attended the Legends and Leaders dinner and enjoyed listening to the banter between Alfonso Ribeiro, ABC Television Host and Actor, and the other distinguished guests. I had the honor of meeting Tom Watson, who is known for winning eight major championships and heading the PGA Tour money list five times between 1970-1980.
Thursday, I started my day at 7:30am with another practice round at Poppy Hills. As I stared into the Marine Layer (thick fog) I found out I was paired with two great golfers, Glen Day and Charlie Rymer along with another First Tee Jr from Baltimore, MD. These guys were a hoot. They helped me read the greens, adjust tee shots and work on my jokes. Mr. Rymer and Mr. Day were obviously lifelong golf friends and witnessing their exchanges was priceless.
Thursday night I attended the Slice Party located at the Cheveron STEM Zone just off hole 17 at Pebble Beach. The STEM Zone consisted of many scientific methods and theories related to golf and physics. My favorite exhibit was the giant Newton’s Cradle.
My favorite hole at Pebble Beach had to be hole 7 because of the view, distance and the wind effect., but I have to say 17 was a close second (my birdie hole). I enjoyed the challenging perspective from the greens while putting so close the Pacific Ocean.
Friday was the start of the official tournament with a tee time of 1:04 pm at Poppy Hills. Wes Short Jr. and myself teed off with two Amateurs for a 5 hour round. Admittedly, it was not the best round of golf for either of us but we pressed on throughout the afternoon. Together we finished 1 over par. Friday nights activities were the best yet with the Core Values Dinner & a live concert by Train. The food was amazing and the concert was a lot of fun. It was held on the lawn adjacent to the 18th green at Pebble Beach. My name was called and I was able to go up on stage to receive a gift card to the Pebble Beach pro shops as the prize for winning the putting competition held Tuesday night.
Saturday morning came early with an 8:30 AM Tee Time back at the Pebble Beach course. Wes Short Jr. and I had a lot of ground to make up from Friday’s round. We were up for the challenge and really took advantage of the views and experiences along the course. My family was able to watch the round and their support was much appreciated. I had a memorable birdie on hole 17 and the crowd went wild from the balcony. I finished off the round with a par on hole 18.
We did not make the cut for Sunday but rather participated in the Core Values Cup at Poppy Hills. It was a best ball and scramble format similar to the Ryder Cup. I was paired with three other The First Tee participants from all over the country. We enjoyed a more relaxed environment and had fun playing together. An amazing, memorable, inspiring, exceptional, unbelievable week of meeting new people, playing golf and experiencing new things. I am very grateful for all the sponsors and support of The First Tee who made this week all it could be.