Thanks to First Tee of the Ozarks, inner-city youths get opportunities to play & learn golf

First Tee of the Ozarks is a great way for inner-city youths from all over the country to learn golf in southwest Missouri.
First Tee of the Ozarks is a great way for inner-city youths from all over the country to learn golf in southwest Missouri. They are part of the PCCC.

For inner-city youths who may never have been exposed to the great sport of golf – and who may not be able to afford to play — there is The First Tee of the Ozarks.

Imagine this: From the first week of June until the first week of August, urban youth from all across America are treated to a one-week course here in southwest Missouri as they learn everything about the sport – from how to tee off, putt, which clubs to use and so forth. If they love it, great.

If not, that’s OK, just as long as they are on the Payne Stewart Memorial Golf & Leadership Complex.

“The best part for me is that golf is one of those few sports – the best sport – about how to handle life’s tough situations,” said Mark Parry, director of The First Tee of the Ozarks, a part of the Kids Across America facility near Golden. “It teaches honesty and integrity. You have to call penalties on yourself. There are just a lot of inherent lessons that come with playing golf.”

First Tee of the Ozarks relies on fundraising, and the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper is proud to support the cause. The tournament, part of the PGA Tour’s annual Web.com Tour stop in Springfield, has generated almost $12 million for children’s charities in its 25-year history. That includes a record $1 million-plus last year alone.

SUPPORTING THE PCCC = SUPPORTING CHARITIES

Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity -- and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity — and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
  • HELP THE FIRST TEE OF THE OZARKS: To help the non-profit in any way, visit its website through KidsAcrossAmerica.org, where you can make a donation.
  • FOR GOLF FANS, WIN PRIZES: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket serves as a four-day tournament pass, but it’s better than that. It enters you to win daily prizes during the tournament as well as grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2015 Ford Mustang.
  • TICKET REVENUE GOES WHERE: Contact the local charity of your choice, simply because they receive revenue directly from those TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes tickets marked with their names.
  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Additionally, restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment stops and such are asked to donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball Charity Auction.
  • WHEN, WHERE: The tournament is Aug. 7-17 at Highland Springs Country Club, with the pros beginning play Aug. 13. Contact the PCCC staff at 417-887-3400.

About First Tee of the Ozarks

FirstTee-2

The First Tee of the Ozarks, which brings in children ages 9 to 18 every summer, is part of the Kids Across America in Golden, Mo., on the western side of Table Rock Lake.

Its roots date to 1978, when Joe White of Kanakuk Kamps, the largest family of Christian sports camps in America, began offering the last week of summer camp to serve the camping needs of urban youth.

The I’m Third Foundation, a 501 c3 non-profit, emerged and eventually the demand for a camp dedicated to serving urban youth and inner-city adult leaders became so great that the first Kids Across America Kamp was built.

It was completed in 1991 and, in 1995, KAA 2 was opened. The number of youth people and inner-city leaders served has grown every year. The demand led to the opening of a leadership training camp called Higher Ground in 1998, and a fourth camp, KAA 3, in the summer of 2001.

In September 2000, the foundation was renamed the Kids Across America Foundation, whose website spells out its mission this way: “God first, others second and I’m third.”

Parry, a Texas transplant, runs First Tee of the Ozarks. He teaches the kids in a lot of creative ways even before they hit the golf course.

 

Mount Vernon standouts, Kring-led team win Junior Pro-Am

The Meek Chiropractic team of Preston Richardson, Lucas Ogden, Clayton Kiser and Dawson Meek -- with pro Kevin Kring -- won the B Division of the Betty and Bobby Allison's Junior Pro-Am on Thursday.
The Meek Chiropractic team of Preston Richardson, Lucas Ogden, Clayton Kiser and Dawson Meek — with pro Kevin Kring — won the B Division of the Betty and Bobby Allison’s Junior Pro-Am on Thursday at Rivercut Golf Course.

For years, 13-year-old Dawson Meek has grown up only hearing about Kevin Kring, the 2008 Central High School state golf champ who next week will play in the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper.

So imagine walking in Meek’s shoes on Thursday at Rivercut Golf Course, where he had the opportunity to play right alongside Kring in the Betty & Bobby Allison’s Junior Pro-Am.

“It was fun – like really fun. He is so good,” said a beaming Meek, who is about to begin eighth grade at Pershing Middle School. “His ball would go so high in the air whenever he hit — it was insane.”

Making memories on a sun-splashed day certainly became a focal point as a combined 64 high school and middle school golfers formed 17 teams and competed in the return of the Betty & Bobby Allison’s Junior Pro-Am.

The Ozark Electric team of Tripper Jensen, Ashley Childers, Kyle Milmouth and pro B.J. Pitzea won the A Division. Not pictured was Megan Poe.
The Ozark Electric team of Tripper Jensen, Ashley Childers, Kyle Milmouth and pro B.J. Pitzen won the A Division.

Ozark Electric, paired with pro golfer B.J. Pitzen, won the A Division by firing a combined 120. The team featured Mount Vernon’s college-bound seniors in Tripper Jensen (Missouri Southern), Ashley Childers (Missouri State) and Kyle Wilmouth. Pitzen shot a 65, while the team carded a 55.

“Pretty much every hole besides nine we did well on,” Jensen said. “It was good to get away from the stress (of readying for college). We all had a lot of fun.”

Meek Chiropractic, paired with Kring, won the B Division with a 120. The group included Meek, Lucas Ogden, Preston Richardson and Clayton Kaiser as the group fired a 65 while Kring finished with a 70.

The format was simple: Players used their best available drive, including the pro’s drive, and the amateurs scrambled. Team scores were the pro’s score and the team’s score.

Kring, expected to draw big crowds in the PCCC that plays Aug. 13-16 at Highland Springs Country Club, engaged in conversation with the middle schoolers throughout. He employed a neat strategy both to keep their attention and to maintain fun, even if there were wayward shots. And so the team played poker golf. The golfer with the best shot on each hole received a card, and a new shirt from Kring went to whoever held the best hand at the end of the round.

Kaiser took mental notes from Kring, who was recently awarded one of the PCCC’s four exemptions.

“He’s fun to watch,” said Kaiser, now only in his third year playing golf. “Whenever he addresses the ball, he has a routine. And I need to get one. He always comes back where he’s going to finish his back swing – and that’s one of my problems. I always get quick in my backswing. When I (eliminate it), that’s when I might get better.”

The Betty & Bobby Allison’s Junior Pro-Am marked the return of such an event after about an eight-year absence from the PCCC. Several youngsters expressed appreciation that it landed on the summer schedule.

Among them were Jackson Von Behren and Keaton Clark. Their Hutchison team, which included Jimmy Hutchison and Wes Humble, placed second in the A Division with a 128. They teamed with pro Mark Anderson.

“He helped us a lot with creating putts and always helped us when we asked for help,” said Behren, a Rogersville High School student.

Said Clark, “He had a funky lie next to a bunker where the ball was below his feet, and he was saying, ‘You’ve got to keep your shoulders parallel to the ground.

“Overall, it was fun,” Clark added. “Hopefully this is an annual thing.”

The day’s best round belonged to pro J.R. Reyes. He fired a nine-under-par 63 – that is 11 shots from the course record of 52, by the way – as he led the team of Cody Minor, John Haight and Jonathan Miller. They placed second in the B Division.

Betty & Bobby Allison’s Junior Pro-Am

Part of the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper

Thursday, Aug. 6 at Rivercut Golf Course

Format: Team scramble, add pro’s score

A Division winners

120 – B.J. Pitzen (65) & Ozark Electric team of Ashley Childers, Tripper Jensen, Kyle Wilmouth (55)

128 – Mark Baker (67) & Branson team of David Bennett, Jack Cathcart, Reed Parry, Cody Pate (61)

129 – Mark Anderson (67) & Hutchison team of Jimmy Hutchison, Jackson Von Behren, Wes Humble, Keaton Clark (62)

B Division winners

126 – Kevin Kring (70) & Meek Chiropractic team of Dawson Meek, Lucas Ogden, Preston Richardson, Clayton Kaiser (56)

126 – Travis Hampshire (63) & Seymour 2 team of Kymberlee Souder, Ellie Hagan, Aspen Williams, Brooklyn Williams (63)

140 – J.R. Reyes (73) & team of Cody Minor, John Gambon, Landon Haight, Johnathan Miller (67)