In 2011, Scott Langley* became the first alum from The First Tee® to earn a PGA Tour card. Since then, he’s shared his story with hundreds of kids in the golf-based youth development program. He’ll be among 156 golfers teeing it up May 2–8 in the 14th Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I started playing golf when I was 5 and started playing tournaments when I was 12. I was 16 years old when I joined the new First Tee chapter in St. Louis. The camaraderie I found with my peers and other junior golfers was tremendous.
The experience helped my golf by providing me with fun competition among kids my age. Perhaps in a more profound way, The First Tee shaped who I am by instilling in me core life values in a fun and golf-related way.
Looking back, I didn’t even realize I was learning important life values, but I most certainly was.
Growing up, my mom and dad, my brother, my swing instructor, my First Tee coaches, and my high school golf coach were my go-to team when it came to learning the game. Today, my go-to team is my family first, but also my caddy, trainer, swing coach, and manager.
Whenever I speak to other First Tee members, my message is that with hard work, dedication, and following the nine core values The First Tee emphasizes — honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment — it’s possible to achieve great things.
I remind the kids that I was in their shoes not long ago, and that they could be in my shoes in a few years out here on tour. I also emphasize the importance of perspective: Don’t get discouraged if golf doesn’t lead you to the PGA or LPGA tours. The values they’re learning as a part of The First Tee will have a much more important impact on their lives than golf ever could on its own.
Looking back on my five-year PGA Tour career, I consider my third-place finish at the Valspar Championship in Tampa in 2014 the highlight of my career. It was a challenging week, on a difficult golf course in windy conditions. And on top of that, I had developed a sinus infection!
But I used a lot of perseverance to fight my way into contention, post a score of five under par overall, and wait for a potential playoff on Sunday. Even though I ended up not getting a shot at a playoff, to finish that well under the gun, when I was sick, capped off a memorable week.
Of The First Tee’s core values, perseverance and confidence are among the most relevant to me on the tour. Week in and week out, we compete against the best players in the world on some of the toughest golf courses. Inevitably, struggles come. But it’s the ability to pick yourself up and move on through the tough stretches that lead to success in the long run.
I’ve learned more about the importance of confidence by being on tour. Being around the best players in the world, I recognize similarities between a lot of the guys who play well consistently. The one thing they all have in common is confidence.
“Confidence is founded upon good preparation; there’s really no substitute.”
To be sure, some players may be considered “cocky” to the public or in the locker room, but to me the true greats have a quiet confidence – they know things are going to go their way. I’ve learned that confidence is founded upon good preparation; there’s really no substitute. We build our confidence in our golf by solid preparation at home, then during practice before the tournament officially starts.
What I love most about golf is its creativity and the impact of the sum of its parts on my life and character. I love the creativity golf demands and how each new day brings a new course, new weather conditions, and new situations. And I love the lessons the game teaches me every day — all centered on the values taught by The First Tee.