Executive Director of The First Tee of the Grand Strand, Rich Abraham, was hired in August with the intension of increasing the presence of the nonprofit youth golf and development organization in Georgetown and Horry counties.
Under Abraham’s leadership the organization in poised to do that in 2015. The upcoming year will bring more programming and fundraising events, and has stated a goal of impacting at least 10,000 youth in the community this year with hope of bringing that number to 25,000 in 2017.
The First Tee is designed to infuse nine core values along with golf instruction to develop better citizens. It has added three new sites in Horry County for after-school and Saturday programs.
The new additions this year include Eagle Nest Golf Club in Little River, the Cane Patch par 3 and driving range in Myrtle Beach, and Shaftsbury Glen Golf & Fish Club and the new South Carolina Golf Center on its practice facility. They will join with Crown Park Golf Club, Legends Resort, Willbrook Plantation and Conway Country Club.
Abraham stated that having Cane Patch is great as it allows access to the golf course as it is sometimes difficult to get the kids on golf courses.
Hugh Royer III is the owner and head of instruction at the new South Carolina Golf Center. He is a former PGA Tour player and he and his staff will assist with instruction at Shaftsbury Glen. Eagle Nest instruction will be headed by Patrick O’Brien who recently graduated from Coastal Carolina University Sports Management Program and interned with a PGA of America section in Texas. O’Brien will be assisted at Eagle Nest by Samantha Swinehart who works at River Hills Golf & Country Club and was a Second Team All-American at South Carolina.
In the past The First Tee has relied on the Future Generations Tournament held in July at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club to raise funds. Abraham has added some new events for 2015.
The first of these will be the Chilly Open on Feb. 7 at Shaftsbury Glen. The event will be a four-person captain’s choice with a 10 a.m. shotgun start. Entry fees will be $75 for adults and $50 for area residents 17 and under. The fee includes food, prizes and a chance to enter a raffle. An additional $25 grants players a $20 PGA Tour Superstore gift card, mulligans, three raffle tickets and a shot from a forward tee.
The Reserve Club in Pawleys Island will host a second captain’s choice tournament on Oct. 26 and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans minor league baseball team is hosting a First Tee/PGA day Aug. 26. PGA Tour Superstore locations and Cane Patch will host various events beginning in March.
Abraham stated that there will be more events added and that he si working on several things at the same time.
This summer The First Tee is joining forces with the Grand Strand Miracle League. The Miracle League provides athletic instruction and events for special needs individuals in the area, and will assist with golf instruction this summer at the Miracle League facility at Pepper Geddings recreation center.
The First Tee of the Grand Strand has added about 20 volunteer instructors for 2015 for a total of approximately 120, and Abraham would like to add approximately 20 more to work with director of programming Tommy Gaither on the new Horry County programs.. He also has about 10 business-side volunteers assisting with fund-raisers and events.