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THE FIRST TEE OF GREATER HOUSTON RECEIVES NATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AND IMPACT ON LOCAL YOUTH

Houston Golf Association fuels program’s growth and impact for the City of Houston

HOUSTON (November 14, 2017) – The First Tee of Greater Houston, a nonprofit whose mission is to teach children core values, wellness and life skills through the game of golf, was recognized with several prestigious awards at the annual meeting of The First Tee Network. The local chapter took home the following national awards: 

  • Chapter Volunteer Engagement Award – The award recognizes a chapter that is leading the way using innovative techniques to recruit, reward, and retain their volunteers.
  • The Outreach Impact Award – This award recognizes creativity, partnerships and collaborative relationships with school districts and the local community and the extent to which young people have benefited with opportunities to learn and grow through this great life sport as uniquely presented by The First Tee.
  • McGlothlin Award – This award is presented to chapters who are significantly impacting their communities for the better through their fulfillment of The First Tee mission. The chapters represent small, medium and large service areas as determined by youth population size.

Members of The First Tee of Greater Houston team also received individual accolades. Doug Earle, executive director, Brian Ladet, program director and coaches Betsy Harris and Patrick Kisomanga were all honored for their commitment and leadership to growing the program and mentoring youth.

Since 2004, the Houston Golf Association has held the charter for The First Tee of Greater Houston, now the largest of 155 chapters in the worldwide network. Specially trained and passionate coaches, supported by volunteers, guide participants through the The First Tee curriculum helping youth ages 7-18 reach their fullest potential at home, in school and at competitive golf.  Programs take place onsite at schools, as well as ten local area golf courses.

“On behalf of the entire team here in Houston, we are humbled by these awards in doing our life’s passion to make a difference in the lives of youth through a game we all love,” said Doug Earle, executive director of the First Tee of Greater Houston. “What excites us is that our impact on local youth continues to grow significantly. By teaching young people wellness and character development through the game of golf, we are giving them skills that will last a lifetime.”

The First Tee of Greater Houston expansion into communities throughout the City continues to rise, now in 488 local schools, impacting nearly 350,000 youth through its programs in 30 school districts including Houston ISD, Alvin ISD, Brazosport ISD, Crosby ISD, Klein ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Clear Creek ISD, Conroe ISD, Humble ISD, Aldine ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Alief ISD, Dickinson ISD, Galena Park ISD, Sheldon ISD, Spring ISD, Stafford MSD, Texas City ISD, Waller ISD, Willis ISD, Pasadena ISD, Huffman ISD, Katy ISD, Deer Park ISD, New Caney ISD, Lamar Consolidated ISD, Tomball ISD, Harris County Department of Education, KIPP School and five private schools. In addition to the volume of schools, The First Tee of Greater Houston also provides instruction and programs through its ten educational facilities, dubbed green grass facilities: Battleground, David Shindeldecker Campus (at Golf Club of Houston), BlackHorse, Quail Valley, F.M. Law Park, Sharpstown, River Plantation, Gus Wortham, Beacon Lakes and Bayou Golf Courses.

The program has flourished due to significant donations from Houston’s PGA TOUR event the Houston Open. Since 1946, the Houston Open, alongside volunteers, has been able to raise $69 million for local organizations—many of which benefit youth programs like The First Tee.

About Houston Golf Association

Founded in 1946, Houston Golf Association and its member volunteers make a difference for Houston communities and their youth through golf, outreach programs, events and fundraising. A not-for-profit, tax exempt 501c (3) organization, Houston Golf Association is host organization to the 10th longest running PGA TOUR event on schedule, the Houston Open, which has played a crucial role in raising more than $69 million for local charities.

Delivering on its promise to make golf accessible to all, Houston Golf Association operates HGA Junior Golf, hosts amateur golf events, works with the City to restore municipal golf courses and amenities, and holds the charter for The First Tee of Greater Houston providing 350,000 local youth with learning facilities and educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Go to www.hga.org to learn more or get involved.

Houston Golf Association Membership Updates

At the HGA town hall meeting held on Nov. 2, 2017 at the David Shindeldecker Campus, Steve Timms announced changes to membership as approved by the HGA Board of Directors. The resulting recommendation is to offer a simplified path to membership, with little to no barriers, to help the organization grow and meet the needs of the community through its outreach programs.

All existing HGA members will have the option to renew at three new levels: $100 Annual Membership, $1000 one-time Legacy Membership, or an annual $5000 membership to the Chairman’s Circle. HGA Honorary and Life Members will maintain their status. In order to volunteer for the Houston Open, you must also separately register and pay for tournament uniforms. A notification will prompt your online renewal and registration process early January 2018.

$100 Annual Membership

  • Official golf bag tag
  • Opportunity to become a Houston Open tournament volunteer
  • Member-exclusive offer on discounted Houston Open hospitality tickets
  • Member rate at Gus Wortham Park Golf Course

$1000 Legacy Membership

  • Annual member benefits for life
  • Official memento
  • Recognition in the Houston Open Pairings Guide and Year in Review
  • Invitation to the annual Houston Open volunteer party

Excludes parking, must be Houston Open volunteer to receive uniform and parking

$5000 Chairman’s Circle

  • Life member benefits
  • Chairman’s credential granting access to the Chairman’s Club at the Houston Open and parking
  • Invitation to the annual Houston Open Volunteer Party

Changes to membership were decided based on the extensive evaluation and recommendations of a membership advisory committee comprising of a diverse group of HGA members, including Henry Noey, Chair, Mike Yeager, Darrell James, Veronica Levet, Cory Miller, Ben Beverly, Michael Sandeen, Rob Hungate and Meg Leechman.

The ultimate goal of the new path to membership is to create more opportunities for youth and communities to benefit from golf.  Please direct questions to jdurbin@hga.org.

Buzz Baker wins the 2017 Greater Houston Senior City Am Championship

By Richard Dean

Buzz Baker vividly remembers the 3 ½-foot putt he missed in a 2007 playoff on the 18th green at Memorial Park Golf Course that denied him an opportunity to win the men’s city amateur championship.

On Sunday, on the same green and facing a putt of similar distance on the same side of the hole, Baker sealed the deal to capture the 2017 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship.

“Close to the same putt I missed 10 years ago and I wasn’t going to miss it this time,” said the 55-year-old Baker, who was eligible for the senior tournament this year for the first time.

Actually Baker’s lead was substantial enough that he could have missed that final putt on the No. 18 hole and won easily. Baker shot a final-round 5-under-par 67 on Sunday for a 5-under-par 211 to win the 54-hole tournament by 5 shots over runner-up Gary Durbin, who was at even-par 216.

Scott Smith finished third at 1-over-par 217 and Hunter Nelson was fourth at 2-over-par 218 in the tournament conducted by the Houston Golf Association.

Baker broke from the pack atop the leaderboard and distanced himself from the contenders with four consecutive birdies on holes 14-17.

“It’s very humbling,” said Baker, a mortgage banker for Houston-based Network Funding, LP. “Great people out here, kind of the same fraternity of guys over the years. A bunch of great people. I’m usually happy for the other guys so it’s really nice to be on the receiving end for once.”

Durbin, Nelson and Marshall Piper were all tied at 2-under going into Sunday’s final round. At the conclusion of the round, Piper was assessed a 4-shot penalty for having 15 clubs in his bag. With the penalty, Piper was at 4-over-par 220, and a share of seventh place.

Durbin, who won this event in 2012 and is a two-time Houston city am winner, shot rounds of 70-72-74.

“I’m very pleased with the second-place finish,” said the 60-year-old Durbin, an All-America golfer at Penn State in 1979. “When you’re leading, you’d like to finish it off. Today was an opportunity to win the senior twice.”

The tournament was close until the final five holes. Baker was playing two groups ahead of the final twosome of Durbin and Piper, who opened Friday’s first round with a 69. And then the ever-popular Baker turned up the heat.

“I hit a good drive on 13 and didn’t birdie 13,” Baker said. “So I said, ‘Gosh, we’re going to have to birdie the hard ones.’“

On the 14th hole, Baker hit his approach about 6 feet above the hole. On 15 and 16 respectively, he placed his approach shots about 18 inches and 10 inches from the hole. And his uncanny shot making continued when the former Stephen F. Austin golfer’s second shot on No. 17 stopped 6 feet of the pin.

“Catching Buzz was tough duty today,” said Smith, who had rounds of 75-69-73. “That’s awesome to bear down and get it done. It’s awesome to be in the moment and actually perform and get it done. That’s exceptional. That’s impressive.”

Baker, who plays out of Shadow Hawk Golf Club, carded rounds of 71-73-67.

“Buzz has been a very good, long-time amateur here,” said Durbin, a deputy chief commercial officer of TMK IPSCO, a global steel pipe company, and who plays out of Champions Golf Club. “Very good player, very steady.

“He got it going. At Memorial, the greens are so good, you can make some putts here. You just have to be hitting the ball well. Today, 5-under is very strong. It was the toughest day to score.”

Baker is a popular player among the amateur golfers in the Houston area. Other golfers were complimentary of Baker’s round and were sincerely happy for him in his prestigious win.

“He’s a fine man and he’s a great guy and everybody likes him,” said the 58-year-old Smith, who is retired from the oil and gas business, and plays out of Northgate Country Club. “He’s a good player, so I’m pleased for him.

“Houston is a very tough place to compete. Whether it’s the city am or trying to qualify for a USGA event. It’s tough. There are a number of good players in Houston.”

Chuck Reeve Wins Super Senior, Three Tied for Final Round Greater Houston Senior City Amateur

Three players are tied for the lead at two-under par going into the final round of the the 2017 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship. There is sure to be a shoot out on Sunday when 2012 champion Gary Durbin (70-72), Marshall Piper (69-73) and Hunter Nelson (69-73) tee it off at Memorial Park Golf Course. Scott Smith and Buzz Baker still in contention as they enter the final round tied for 4th at even par.

In the Super Senior division, Chuck Reeve from Houston wins the 2017 Greater Houston Super Senior City Amateur Championship. Chuck defeated Gordon Norwood on the first playoff hole.  After finishing their final rounds at even par, Reeve defeated Gordon Norwood on the first playoff hole. The top two battled each other and the tough rough at Memorial Park Golf Course for 37 holes.  David Leestma from Seabrook finished in third with a two-day total 145.

View full leaderboard and results here. 

 

 

 

 

Round 1 of the Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship

Round 1 of the Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course is complete. Four players are currently in the lead with four-under par 69’s.  Gary Durbin, 2012 Champion, lurks one back after an opening round of 70. In the Super Senior division, four tied for the lead at the halfway point at even par 72.
 
Senior Leaderboard
T1: Hunter Nelson/ Lee Williams/ Marshall Piper/ David Leiss  69
5: Gary Durbin 70
Super Senior Leaderboard
T1: Gordon Norwood, Chuck Reeve, Don Fanning, Gary Hagstrom  72
 

Devaughn Robinson Clinches Victory at 2017 Greater Houston City Amateur Championship

By Richard Dean
Over the years, the Houston city amateur has had its share of exciting finishes. The 2017 tournament was much the same. Thanks in part to Devaughn Robinson, who is a worthy champion. Especially after what he pulled off on the first playoff hole at Memorial Park Golf Course on Sunday.
After hitting his tee shot out of bounds on the par-5 No. 1 hole, Robinson somehow found a way to win the hole and playoff over Justin Kaplan and capture the Greater Houston City Amateur Championship. Robinson scrambled to make par on the extra hole by making a 25-foot putt. The 29-year-old former Texas Southern University golfer then secured the coveted championship after Kaplan bogeyed the hole.
“It was fun for me, but bad for Justin,” said Robinson, winner of the 2016 Bahamas national amateur. “He played a phenomenal tournament from start to finish. And to beat him made it that much more special, because he’s a great player.”
There was great golf displayed over the four-round, three-day tournament, conducted by the Houston Golf Association. Robinson and Kaplan finished 72 holes tied at 10-under-par-274. Matt Van Zandt, who won this event in 2015, finished 9-under, just missing the playoff after bogeying the final hole.
Kaplan, who played college golf at Minnesota and the University of Houston, was on his game all weekend. He led after each of the first three rounds and took a 2-shot advantage going into Sunday afternoon’s final round over Robinson, who shot a third-round 65 in Sunday’s morning session.
“It was a great week,” Kaplan said. “I wanted to win and I put myself in good position. I’m a little disappointed, but a fun week.”
Victory was in Kaplan’s grasp. And things looked real good for Kaplan and bleak for Robinson, when Robinson pushed his tee shot on the first playoff hole, basically spotting Kaplan 2 shots.
Robinson’s errant drive hit the right-side cart path, took a big bounce, and landed 10 yards into the woods.
“I hit the cart path and I knew for sure, that’s gone,” Robinson said. “I just said, ‘Go make 5. Hit it down there and go make 5 and see what happens.’ And it worked out.”
The shot that set the foundation for Robinson’s comeback in the playoff, was from 230 yards using a 3-iron. That led to his make on the 25-foot putt that had 6-7 feet of break. Robinson hit it dead center.
“There was no other way to hit the putt,” Robinson said. “You had to hit it perfectly.”
Kaplan was impressed by the pressure putt made by Robinson. Which turned out to be the winning putt.
“It had to have had five feet of break, right to left,” said Kaplan, who plays out of The Club at Carlton Woods. “He hit an incredible putt. Perfect speed.”
After Robinson drained his putt, Kaplan still had a chance to win. But his birdie putt ran 4 feet past the hole, and Kaplan missed for par on the way back, making Robinson the winner.
“I knew I needed to two-putt to go to the next hole, but in that situation, I’m trying to win,” Kaplan said. “It was a tough putt, straight downhill, right to left, and I pushed it a little bit and hit it a little firmer than I liked. And I didn’t make the comebacker.”
Robinson shot rounds of 69-69-65-71. Kaplan had rounds of 65-68-73-68. Van Zandt carded 67-69-70-69.
In Sunday’s final round, it was clear that only Robinson, Kaplan and Van Zandt had a chance to win the tournament. Robinson, playing one group ahead of Kaplan and Van Zandt in the final twosome, was at 11-under before making bogey at No. 17. By dropping a shot, Robinson fell into a three-way share of the lead at 10-under with Kaplan and Van Zandt, who won the 2014 Carlton Woods Invitational.
“I scrambled well all week,” said the 31-year-old Van Zandt, who won a high school state championship at Elkins and was a member of Texas A&M’s 2009 national championship team. “That’s what ended up hurting me on the last hole. My full swing wasn’t very good. I putted really well. That’s what kept me in it.
“Overall, it was a fun tournament. This is the best tournament around. I’m really excited for Kaplan and Devaughn.”

Justin Kaplan Holds on to the Lead Going into Final Day

Justin Kaplan continued his strong play in round two. He followed up his bogey free 65 with a second round 68 which included five birdies.  The 2015 Greater Houston City Amateur champion  Matt Van Zandt also kept his impressive play going and remains in second after a second round 69, which included an eagle and three birdies. Devaughn Robinson and Chris Causey are lurking back in third and fourth place respectively.

The final day concludes today with rounds three and four and is sure to provide a great shootout. Follow live scoring here.

 

Justin Kaplan takes the lead after round one at Greater Houston Men’s Amateur

Justin Kaplan shot 6-under par to take at two-stroke lead over 2015 Champion Matt Van Zandt at the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur at Memorial Park Golf Course. A.J. Vesey and Devaughn Robinson of Houston both shot 69. Todd Albert of Katy, Nick Marlow, Chris Causey, Jess Bonneau, and former Houston Golf Association Junior Golfer and 2017 Eddie Burke Senior Young Houstonian champion Henry Fisher all carded a one-under, 70.

The field of 144 will be cut to the low 40 scorers and ties after Saturday’s second round to set the stage for a 36-hole finale on Sunday.

Houston Golf Association Pledges to Support KPRC Red Cross Fund

Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Houston Golf Association pledges $50,000 to the KPRC Red Cross fund to support ongoing relief efforts. Giving back is at the core of the volunteer members of the Houston Golf Association and we will continue to look for ways to help Houston communities as our resilient city begins the work to come back better than ever.

Houston resident Chris Stroud joins PGA TOUR in announcing support for Hurricane Harvey Relief

Fans, players, tournaments can help flood victims at Dell Technologies Championship and via “Together, anything’s possible”

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and Norton, Massachusetts (August 30, 2017)  – PGA TOUR professional and Houston resident Chris Stroud led an announcement today from the TOUR’s Dell Technologies Championship, pledging support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey and the resulting flooding.  Stroud committed $10,000 toward the relief efforts and plans to add an additional 10 percent of his earnings from this week’s event.  TOUR players, fans and tournaments can further assist the American Red Cross through PGA TOUR Charities’ Together, anything’s possible platform.  Additionally, fans on site at this week’s event in Norton, Massachusetts – where players will wear red, white and blue ribbons (colors of the Texas flag) to raise awareness – can donate via kiosks in the Dell Technologies Championship Fan Experience.  Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast on Friday, August 25, and torrential rainfall has submerged thousands of homes and forced unprecedented evacuations.

“It has been a tough week, but in some ways a very rewarding week,” said Stroud.  He is one of the more than 30 players on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Web.com Tour who live in the Houston community, and the area is also home to the PGA TOUR’s Houston Open and the Insperity Invitational on PGA TOUR Champions. “To see all the people and organizations around the country eager to pitch in and help is inspiring.  I hope the efforts of the PGA TOUR and my fellow players will spur more people to join in and help make a difference to those who are in need.”

Fans wishing to assist in the relief and recovery efforts can stop by the Dell Technologies Championship Fan Experience, or by making donations through PGA TOUR Charities’ “Together, anything’s possible” website by clicking on the red GIVE button. Starting on August 30, all donations via the site will be distributed to American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief. Additionally, fans can make donations directly through the American Red Cross by visiting www.redcross.org or by texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

“Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by this terrible storm and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, who pledged $250,000 on behalf of the TOUR to the American Red Cross. “We hope our collective efforts help bring comfort and aid to the victims and that it will spur our players, tournaments and fans to join the cause and help out.”

“Thanks to the generosity of the PGA TOUR and its partners, the Red Cross will be able to continue to provide our needed services to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Currently, Red Cross is focusing on providing safe shelter and feeding people. After the storm passes, we will be offering emotional support, health services, and distributing emergency relief supplies such as comfort kits and cleaning supplies. Red Cross plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet and we are very grateful for PGA TOUR’s support,” said Anna Trefethen, Vice President Humanitarian Services Southeast & Caribbean Division.

About Together, anything’s possible 

Together, anything’s possible, is the PGA TOUR’s charity platform that brings together all of the TOUR’s stakeholders – players, tournaments and sponsors, volunteers, charities and fans – to tell the story of the tremendous impact that their collective efforts are having on communities throughout the world.

Since the first donation of $10,000 was made in 1938, PGA TOUR events have generated significant funds for local charities.  In fact, the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Web.com Tour have surpassed the $2.46 billion mark in overall charitable contributions.

To learn more about tournament and player charities and how to donate to these causes, visit the PGA TOUR’s charity web site at www.pgatour.com/together.