LAKELAND, Fla. — It’s a fulfilling experience when one can give back to the community and six Symetra Tour players did just that late Wednesday afternoon when they performed a golf clinic at YMCA Par 3, home to The First Tee of Lakeland.
Leslie Cloots (Antwerp, Belgium), Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), Krystal Quihuis (Tucson, Arizona), Jordan Britt (Chattanooga, Tennessee), Harang Lee (Castro Urdiales, Spain) and Samantha Troyanovich (Grosse Pointe, Michigan) volunteered for the 7th annual event, providing insight and instruction on the range and putting green.
“To get where I am right now, I had a lot of people doing that for me,” said Britt, who went through The First Tee program. “It’s the least that I could possibly do. I hope that I’m in a position someday to do so much more. Kids are fantastic to be around and they’re like sponges, they want to learn.”
The property was established in 1955 by George Jenkins, the late founder of Publix Super Markets Inc., as a recreational facility for his employees. After shutting down for some time, doors reopened 13 years ago.
In addition to having The First Tee of Lakeland, the YMCA Par 3 also features several other programs including LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, Special Olympics/Adaptive Golf, Central Florida Junior Golf Tour and many others.
“For our juniors, anytime they can be around professionals to get instruction from them and see them up-close, it’s always a treat for them,” said Gerald Richardson, the Executive Director at YMCA Par 3. “A lot of them have aspirations to play beyond high school and college, to play professionally. They enjoy it in regards to having the opportunity to see someone that they’re trying to work towards.”
The day was also rewarding for Suzanne Walker, the Program Director with YMCA Par 3. From Nova Scotia, Canada, Walker played collegiately at Illinois State University before qualifying for the Futures Tour and Canadian Tour in 2000.
After a couple of years playing as a professional, she found a passion in teaching the game, something she has done ever since.
“It’s awesome that I get to give back to the kids. We’re learning from the kids everyday,” Walker said. “When they get that ball airborne, it’s rewarding. We’re not just teaching the golf swing, we’re teaching how young people can grow into wonderful adults and then, in turn, give back to their communities as well.”
For more information on The First Tee of Lakeland, visit http://www.thefirstteelakeland.org