Tammy Palmer, who is the executive director of First Tee-Golden Isles, has seen Addison’s first-hand transformation. It’s not just the golfer she’s become, it’s how the teen has matured and been empowered by the organization’s core values.
“I guess the one word, if I were to have one word for Addison, it’s joy,” she says. “Like, every time I see Addison and I talk to Addison, she’s always got a very bright smile on her face, and she’s just a beautiful young girl, and she’s got a bright future ahead of her. …
“She has developed so much confidence over the last few years and she has really developed into a wonderful young woman. And she has started being a part of a couple of organizations at her school where she’s on the leadership board. … And the amazing thing about that is, is it’s a new school for her. … And so, she’s jumped right in with both feet and. And she’s just going to do amazing.”
Addison has been a member of First Tee-Golden Isle, which is a beneficiary of the RSM Birdies Fore Love program since her grandfather Rich Seban signed her up for a summer camp at the age of 7. He lives in a golf course community, and she liked tagging along with him.
“It was just a way for me to get out there and hang out with him,” Addison says.
She played soccer, volleyball and basketball, too, but by the time she was 10, Addison began taking golf more seriously. She and her grandfather play together weekly, but while she’s come close, she has not beaten him yet, “sadly,” she says.
A ninth grader at Frederica Academy on Saint Simon’s Island, Addison is drawn to the challenge of the game, as well as the friendships she’s made. She’ll be playing golf for the Knights this year, and she was pleased to find out there is another girl on the team who plays “serious” golf.
“I think my favorite part about golf is just being out there and playing it and just enjoying seeing how well I’m doing for the day or how bad and how I can improve with it,” Addison says.
Now that she’s older and a veteran, of sorts, at First Tee-Golden Isle, Addison volunteers three or four times a week. She started out working with the youngest kids and now focuses on the 7-9 age group, teaching them the core values and the game, as well as respecting the golf course.
Palmer says the donation from the RSM Birdies Fore Love program has allowed First Tee-Golden Isle to expand into three additional counties and provide life and leadership opportunities to more kids like Addison.
“We’ve been able to add a lot more specialty programs like PGA Junior League and LPGA Girls Golf and our school program, where we have our curriculum and our equipment inside 25 middle and elementary high schools,” she says. “And so, we’ve been able to expand that and create a much further reach than we did before.”
The First Tee lessons Addison teaches to the youngsters are ones she knows well. The core values – particularly honesty and perseverance — are an integral part of her daily life.
“It’s taught me a lot about leadership,” Addison says of the First Tee tenets. “I’m a part of my school’s leadership teams that they have, and I think it’s helped a lot with that and just also building confidence with that to being able to say I’m going do this and actually doing it and just not saying it and not doing it.”
Addison’s ultimate goal is to earn a college scholarship to play golf. While she has already played in some tournaments, particularly on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, she hopes to be a more regular participant in 2023, competing in at least one a month.
Looks like it’s time to sell some more candles.