The First Tee of The Triad, PGA TOUR Golfer Johnson Wagner Present 2016 Awards

GREENSBORO, N.C. – – The 2016 season has come to a close for The First Tee of the Triad, and the Piedmont Triad chapter of the international organization presented its season-ending awards to four students and nine ACE Graduates last night with the help of  PGA TOUR golfer Johnson Wagner, the chapter announced today.  The First Tee of the Triad is the local chapter of the international movement to teach children life skills through golf.

The First Tee of the Triad runs after-school programs throughout the school year and various summer programs for the approximately 1,300 students that now participate in the programs offered at the 17 Piedmont Triad locations of The First Tee of the Triad.  During school hours, The First Tee programming is available in 134 schools reaching some 50,000 Piedmont Triad children.  The nine core values of The First Tee are honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.  Following each season, The First Tee of the Triad presents awards to students who excel in any of the nine core values; awards are not necessarily presented for each value every year.

As The First Tee of the Triad CEO Mike Barber announced the award winners, Wagner, who finished tied for fifth in his eighth Wyndham Championship appearance earlier this year, presented the awards and hosted a question and answer session for the award winners and their parents.  The following children representing multiple Piedmont Triad communities were recognized for their 2016 achievements:

Jansen Bailey:             Perseverance Award – Grandover Resort

Madison Cook:           Community Award – Gillespie Golf Course

Gregory Reitz:            Sportsmanship Award – Winston Lake Golf Club

Sarah Walden:             Code of Conduct Award – Gillespie Golf Course

“The First Tee is very near and dear to me,” Wagner said.  “I’ve been attending First Tee events for a long time, but it was incredible to present the awards.  There was one kid, I got to shake his hand earlier behind the scenes, and his hand was shaking – he was nervous.  I just wanted to give him a hug.  It’s crazy to be on this side of it now.  I remember when I got to meet a PGA TOUR player when I was really young; I still remember it.  It was the highlight of my life, and it made me want to play on the PGA TOUR.  To get to meet these kids and hand out trophies for the wonderful things they’re doing was really special for me.”

In addition, nine First Tee of the Triad students achieved ACE certification, the pinnacle of The First Tee.  After completing the first four levels of certification, PLAYer, Par, Birdie and Eagle, students have the option of working towards the final step in the program. ACE focuses on personal planning and reinforces skills learned earlier in the program.  ACE graduates have also completed projects in four areas: community service, career, college and golf.  The First Tee of the Triad ACE graduates, age and the locations they represent are below:

Preston Ball, 18, Tanglewood Park

Ryan Birkedal, 18, Tanglewood Park

Donovan Durham, 18, Gillespie Golf Course

Matthew Guo, 17, Tanglewood Park

Wesley Holiday, 18, Gillespie Golf Course

Colin Kirk, 16, Tanglewood Park

Sofia Kremidas, 17, Winston Lake Golf Club

Seth Lomison, 18, Winston Lake Golf Club

Cassie Paulin, 17, Tanglewood Park

“Hundreds of thousands of kids have gone through The First Tee programming, but only a very minor fraction of them graduate from the ACE Program,” Barber said.  “A large percentage of the students that have achieved ACE Graduation have come from our chapter – nine in one year is unheard of.  We have reason to believe our 2016 graduating class is the largest in the entire history of The First Tee.  Our Ace graduates are shining examples of what long-term First Tee participants can achieve.  Many of these students were accepted into First Tee national events this year representing our local chapter – that’s an incredible honor for them and our chapter.

“We are extremely proud of our ACE Graduates and our 2016 award winners.  These students are setting terrific examples of the core values First Tee programming teaches every day.  All of our First Tee of the Triad students can look to these award winners and ACE graduates as examples of how to take advantage of all The First Tee programming offers.  Congratulations to all of them for their accomplishments and achievements.”

 About The First Tee of the Triad:

The First Tee of the Triad is currently operating at 17 facilities throughout the Piedmont Triad, central North Carolina and southern Virginia.  Its programming is offered at Bryan Park in Browns Summit, Country Club of Salisbury, Gillespie Golf Course in Greensboro, Grandover Resort in Greensboro, Goodyear Golf Course in Danville, Va., Greensboro National Golf Club in Summerfield, Indian Valley Golf Course in Burlington, Iron Play Par 3 Links in Summerfield, Jamestown Park Golf Course, Oak Hollow Golf Course in High Point, Rick Murphy Golf Academy in Greensboro, Ringgold Golf Course in Ringgold, Va., Statesville Country Club, Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, Winding Creek Golf Course in Thomasville and Winston Lake Golf Course in Winston-Salem.  The First Tee of the Triad is one of 180 chapters operating some 1,000 golf programming locations in all 50 states and four foreign countries with more than 10 million participants.  More than 7,000 elementary schools participate in The First Tee National School Program. For additional information, please visit

About The First Tee:

The First Tee, an initiative of the World Golf Foundation, has as its mission, “To impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”  The goal of The First Tee is to provide the golf-learning facilities and the experience that will enable kids from every walk of life to partake of a game that teaches values for life and which can be played for a lifetime.  Founded by the World Golf Foundation in 1997, The First Tee is a way to bring golf to children that otherwise would not be exposed to the game or its positive values.  The program is overseen and has the active support of committee members representing Augusta National Golf Club, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and the United States Golf Association.  Former President George W. Bush serves as Honorary Chairman; he succeeds his father, former president George H.W. Bush, who served as the The First Tee’s Honorary Chairman since the organization’s inception in 1997 and now serves as the Honorary Chair Emeritus.


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