Zurich Classic 2011 Youth Clinic Celebrates Junior Golf in New Orleans
What a day for the children of New Orleans! The First Tee of Greater New Orleans, The Fore!Kids Foundation and The Kelly Gibson Foundation joined forces on Monday to put on one of the finest clinics I have seen in years at the tournament.
The Executive Director of The First Tee, Dwayne Cormier, had the details covered with each child receiving a cap and shirt along with hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks.
Terry Mauney of the PGA and the Director of Programs and Instruction of The First Tee shared with the crowd the impact the children are having in learning the nine core values of The First Tee.
PGA Tour Veteran and civic leader Kelly Gibson was in a familiar role of emcee of this great event for the 21st consecutive year.
It was a nice show of support seeing Tommy Fonseca, President, and Buddy Seeling, Chairman of the Board, of the The Fore!Kids Foundation as well as C.J. Bruno, Zurich Classic Tournament Chairman, in attendance. Also, a pair of former Chairmen of the Board, Bill Reinhardt and Mike Rodrigue, were there along with Luke Farabaugh, PGA member and General Manager of TPC Louisiana. Bill Renton and John Wyatt of the New Orleans Golf Association also attended to help make a great impression on the momentum junior golf presently enjoys in New Orleans.
The day had something for everyone, adults included. Gibson and Terry Mauney, who also played on the PGA Tour, made comments on the swing of a star of The First Tee program, Norman Blanco, who was hitting shots to warm up the crowd and displaying his fine skills.
The crowd enjoyed a special treat when Gibson (pictured below) hit shots still showing the old PGA Tour magic that carried him to making over 150 cuts, a milestone for professional golfers. Could the Champions Tour be in the back of his mind? I think Kelly found some of his youthful enthusiasm for the game.
It was special seeing Kelly, Dwayne and Terry introducing PGA Tour Rookie Joseph Bramlett. Tiger Woods and Joseph are the only African-Americans on the PGA Tour. Like Tiger, the 23-year old attended Stanford where Joseph received his degree in communications.
Joseph was an inspiration to the juniors telling them his dream of playing on the PGA Tour started in grade school. The two core values he shared with the children that have impacted his life were honesty and perseverance, both traits he stressed that he had learned from his parents. Joseph can really play, and I look for him to have a good tournament here this week.
One of my favorite parts of the clinic was watching trick shot artist Dennis Walters who, in spite of being paralyzed from the waist down in 1974, showed the children that through dreams, hard work and perseverance that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. The former professional golfer’s ability to hit shots of every kind from a specially-equipped seat on a golf car is a sight to behold. The device allows him to turn through shots to hit the ball over 200 yards. He was a Babe Ruth of sorts, calling every shot, using a one-foot long club and even taking out a club made from a rubber hose to hit the ball extremely well.
Walters is the best in the world at what he does, and his message to children and parents is heart warming and special. His sidekick Bucky, the smartest dog in golf, was obtained from a shelter. The little guy gave us all a math class in his ability to add any number. It was an amazing show by a remarkable duo (pictured right).
This junior event truly was a celebration of golf in New Orleans. I am so proud to all who made it happen.
I along with my wife and two children had a memorable golf experience we will never forget. When you see the children on the course wearing their Bramlett Bunch t-shirts, they will be wearing much more than a shirt, they will be wearing a dream.
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