PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida – “I hope you join me and discover the opportunities that the game of golf and First Tee can provide to you…Today, you took your first step towards First Tee. Keep going. It will be worth it.” This was the advice First Tee alumnus Mombo Ngu shared with the Duval County middle school students and their families who ‘took their first step towards First Tee’ at Brentwood Golf Course on Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Ngu, a graduate of Darnell Cookman Middle and High School, is now a sophomore at the University of Florida studying Sociology, with a pre-medical track.
Sponsored by THE PLAYERS Championship, in partnership with First Tee – North Florida, that question was answered at the “Lunch on the Links,” open house and clinic for Duval County middle school students in order to introduce them to First Tee’s programming and offerings.
The youth development organization has created a plan to introduce the game of golf and its character building programs to more diverse young people and communities. Specifically, new in 2021, First Tee — North Florida is collaborating with Duval County Public Schools to launch “Rising Leaders of Jax.” This program identifies 30 middle school students in Duval County public schools and introduces them to the game of golf, using it as a powerful vehicle to empower kids to build inner strength and life skills they can carry to everything that they do. The free, one-year accelerated program will use First Tee’s curriculum and will include students selected from schools within close proximity to Brentwood Golf Course, where their instruction and mentorship will take place.
During the open house, the middle school students had the opportunity to chat with First Tee alumni Ngu, as well as staff members and current participants. In addition, stations were set up on the range and putting green, affording the students the opportunity to take a few swings of their own. Seson golgfers were also present to share swing tips and advice with the students.
“Take advantage, young people, of this opportunity of learning the game of golf,” said Dr. Diana Greene, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools. “Because not only will you learn the game of golf, but you’ll learn the game of life.”