The First Tee Achievers Honored during U.S. Open Week
By Hunki Yun, USGA
PHILADELPHIA – Ben Hogan’s victory in the 1950 U.S. Open was one of the great examples of perseverance in golf history. Sixteen months after a car accident that left doctors unsure whether he would even walk again, Hogan trekked 90 holes at Merion Golf Club in four days to win his second U.S. Open.
Sixty-three years later, 10 teenagers who similarly overcame adversity gathered for The First Tee RBS Achievers Dinner at the National Constitution Center during the week of the 2013 U.S. Open. Hailing from around the country, the Achievers were chosen for their perseverance and accomplishments while overcoming difficult circumstances.
From the 10 semifinalists, The First Tee chose two finalists, who will each receive a $15,000 college scholarship. The eight semifinalists will receive $3,000 scholarships.
One finalist is 17-year-old Megan Chapin, who has overcome numerous medical issues, including several heart surgeries, to become a leader and role model to other participants in The First Tee of Fort Smith (Ark.).
The other is Cody Lissner, 18, from the First Tee of Howard County (Md.). Cody, who developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol when he was 13, entered a treatment facility after ninth grade. Now sober for two years, Cody plays for his high school golf team and shares his story at hospitals and institutions.
All the honorees have used The First Tee’s core values to overcome obstacles and are emblematic of the impact that the game has had on the lives of thousands of youngsters around the country.
“We have tens of thousands of kids across the country,” said Joe Louis Barrow, CEO of The First Tee. “And they all have their own stories, most not as challenging as these. But we have helped young people based on their understanding of our life skills and nine core values.”
Prior to the dinner, the Achievers attended Wednesday’s practice round at Merion, where they were able to watch their favorite players prepare for the U.S. Open.
“To be able to walk the golf course and experience and see some of the finest players in the world is an extraordinary affirmation of what golf can mean for them,” said Barrow. “So when they can see that level of excellence and enjoy it, it’s pretty special. It really underscores the value of golf, and how golf can make a difference in the lives of young people.”