Ellington and Pack Conduct First Tee Clinic
Nov. 29, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. - NC State redshirt junior golfer Caroline Ellington was excited to give back to the program that has already given her so much.
Wednesday afternoon at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course driving range, Ellington and her teammates had the opportunity to participate in a girls-only clinic with the First Tee of the Triangle.
Ellington began her association with the organization in middle school, with her mom driving her from their home in New Bern to Raleigh to participate. She continued with the program until she was in high school.
The pinnacle of Ellington's participation in the First Tee program was being selected to go to Pebble Beach, Calif., to play in a pro-am tournament with Champions Tour members. There she played with pro golfer Bruce Fleisher, with whom she's maintained a friendship to this day. Each year when Fleisher comes to Raleigh to participate in the SAS Championship, the two renew their friendship over dinner.
Ellington calls that one of the biggest highlights of her young golf life.
She also says that First Tee has also taught her other life lessons.
"It is important because it focuses on character," Ellington said, "and how you approach the game from an attitude standpoint. It helps you foster yourself as you grow as a golfer. "
Ellington says the program encouraged her to take on things from a positive angle and that she always had people there to support her.
"I think it's a really valuable approach to golf and it teaches you a lot about life," she commented.
Ellington said it wasn't difficult to get her Wolfpack teammates on board to help out with the First Tee program.
"We've been trying to do something like this for the past couple of years," Ellington said. "I'm a senior this year and I was determined to make this happen. Hopefully, it will continue in the future because I really think it's worthwhile."
In existence since 1997, the First Tee program has reached 6.5 million participants. It works in conjunction with its founding partners: the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the USGA. It also receives support from Shell Oil Company and Johnson & Johnson.
The program works with young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance through the game of golf.
First Tee of the Triangle director of programs Brandon Baker said the organization was elated to have the participation of the Wolfpack women's golf team.
"Golf is a sport that seems to be male-dominated," Baker said, "so it's really cool to have the young ladies out here with the golf team and understanding how golf can positively impact young girls."
Baker said of the 750 participants that the Triangle chapter of the First Tee program will serve this year, 34 percent of them will be female. He said the program's goal is to increase that number to 45 percent female participation by 2015.
The ultimate goal of the First Tee is to help its participants with their goal setting, self-management, interpersonal skills, perseverance and resiliency to deal with all of life's challenges.
Ellington and her NC State teammates spent 90 minutes working with participants on the fundamentals of the game, offering advice and answering any questions that the young ladies might have.
The hope is that Wednesday's clinic will produce another Caroline Ellington, but more importantly the goal is to re-enforce the program's core principals, which will help its participants successfully deal with challenges on and off the course.