After a start from The First Tee, golf has taken Addison Mitchell from coast to coast this summer.
Mitchell played in the U.S. Kids World Championships at fabled Pinehurst Golf Club in North Carolina recently. Next up is another of the world’s most famous links as Mitchell heads to Pebble Beach for the Nature Valley First Tee Open on the Champions Tour.
Mitchell, 15, says without The First Tee, none of it would have happened.
"First Tee first got me interested in golf and gave me a place to practice and learn the game," Mitchell said. "And the life skills program they teach has made me who I am today."
Also representing The First Tee of Fort Smith at Pebble Beach is Christian Griffith, 17, who will be a junior on the Greenwood team in the fall.
Mitchell and Griffith are two of 81 First Tee participants selected from across the nation. Applicants had to show strong playing ability along with dedication to The First Tee programs and write an essay.
"What a wonderful opportunity," Griffith said. "Pebble Beach is where there legends of the game have played some of the great matches in golf history. I have watched the highlights, like where Tom Watson chipped in to beat Jack Nicklaus, and to go there and play is really exciting."
The First Tee of Fort Smith has had two previous students selected, but this is the first time to have two in the same tournament.
"It is a great honor for our chapter to have have one get to go, but two is fantastic," The First Tee of Fort Smith executive director Kris Scott said. "Both of them are very deserving, they have both done a lot for our chapter for a lot of years."
Both Mitchell and Griffith have been involved with The First Tee since a young age and advanced through the program to the highest classification — the Ace level.
"Both Addison and Christian are the kind of young people that First Tee hopes to develop," The First Tee of Fort Smith’s life skills director Chris Murphy said. "They started in the Little Linksters program and now they are working with those kids. The young kids really look up to them, they will get excited and run up to them when they see them."
The dates for the Nature Valley First Tee Open are Sept. 27-29 and will be televised on the Golf Channel. The players and other amateurs will be paired with a pro in a pro-am format.