Thank you Dr. Albaugh

Glen Albaugh

Dr. Glen Albaugh, a retired sports psychologist who taught at UOP, celebrated his 80th birthday, 9 years ago, by hosting a golf tournament at Stockton Golf & Country Club and inviting his friends and family from all over. Some special guests were PGA stars Charlie Wi and Scott McCarron. There were well over 150 people in attendance. All proceeds were donated to First Tee – San Joaquin, specifically to help cover costs of training and certification for coaches – Glen’s passion.

The event raised over $40,000 and we are forever grateful to Glen and his unwavering support for First Tee!!

Ever get caught up in someone else’s passion so much that it becomes your own? This happened to me more than 9 years ago when an acquaintance asked me to help organize and work at a golf tournament. Dr. Glen Albaugh wanted to celebrate his 80th birthday gathering his closest friends to raise money for his favorite charity – First Tee – San Joaquin. What is First Tee, I asked? He explained its format of presenting core values and life skills to children 6 to 17 through the game of golf. Spending time with Dr. Albaugh, I couldn’t help but be curious about this wonderful program. Needless to say, after my first Saturday, I was hooked.

Dr. Albaugh has become a treasured friend and peer to me over the years. I admire that he continues to learn. Learning new ways to communicate and get his message out is not easy for folks that were not raised on computers or with internet. He has become proficient in both so that he and his message will remain relevant for years to come. A few other things to love and admire – he has a lovely singing voice and sits tall in the saddle, however he is not singing or riding much anymore. He is adored by his family, friends and peers. Our chapter is lucky to have him as an advisor.

Debbie Bond, Coach

Glen is a close friend and inspiration. He has taught me to explore areas of golf and life, I would have never done on my own. Through our journey I have made great strides in my game as well as been introduced to many wonderful people around the world. His understanding of human performance and his willingness to share this information has made this game so much more fun for me and for every student willing to open themselves up to trying new ways to improve their game.

What Dr. Albaugh has meant to First Tee has been unbelievable. His commitment to helping young people build character and life skills are completely in concert with his teachings. He speaks to proper preparation to increase performance is no different than preparing for the challenges we meet in life. The information he shares also helps every golfer reach personal goals, which are usually, far beyond their expectations. First Tee is so lucky to have him be part of the program.

Jeff Tokunaga, Board Member

USGA Awards Grant to First Tee of San Joaquin for Local Youth Development Programs

USGA grant is part of a nationwide initiative to provide greater access to golf for youth The United States Golf Association (USGA) has awarded a $5,000 grant to First Tee of San Joaquin to further their efforts of introducing young people to the game of golf and experiences that empower children to build strength and character. This grant is one of 51 other grants being awarded nationwide to local ¬chapters affiliated with USGA Championships and Allied Golf Associations as part of the organization’s strategy to leave a positive impact on its local host communities. Since 1997, the USGA has invested more than $26 million in grants to First Tee to provide course access for junior golfers and cultivate a life-long passion for the game. The commitment to expanding participation is part of the USGA’s mission to champion and advance the game. “Year after year we are seeing the positive impact that First Tee and other junior programs are having in breaking down barriers and connecting communities through sports,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “It is vital for golf’s long-term health that we continue to create pathways for all juniors to participate.” First Tee brings kids and teens to the game of golf and leverages it as a catalyst for personal growth through experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience. With USGA’s support, First Tee of San Joaquin reaches more than 1,000 young people annually at 4 program locations and several after school programs, with support from 40 volunteers. First Tee of San Joaquin impacts young people through character education and life skills workshops at in-school and after-school programs. “The USGA grant couldn’t have come at a better time for our chapter. The pandemic has caused a tremendous strain on our financial resources and as a local nonprofit organization we depend on local support and fundraising that has basically dried up since March. Fortunately, the USGA recognizes the need from First Tee around the country.” The funding is part of the USGA’s annual $70 million investment back into the game fueled by revenues generated by the U.S. Open.

Q & A with Lauren Garces

Why did you come back to the First Tee after leaving Golf for a few years?

I decided to start up golf again with the First Tee because of my close friends who had been in the Birdie class at our local chapter, and they always made it seem very fun. In addition, the people I knew had access to once in a lifetime opportunities, such as the Nature Valley Open at Pebble Beach. Madeline Zunino was my main inspiration to join the First Tee again because she was on the golf team my freshman year at Lincoln High, and she always talked about how awesome her experience was. I am so thankful to have joined this amazing organization just in time.

What was your favorite level in the First Tee and Why?

My favorite level of the First Tee is Eagle because I learn more about the core values, their meanings, and how they apply to real life. As much as I know I enjoyed Player and Par, I use what I learn each week in my leadership roles I have at home, at school, and on my sports teams I actively partake in.

What is your Favorite Core Value?

Perseverance is the most valuable 9 core value to me, because a true leader needs to be able to work through challenges. As Junior Class President at my high school, I have resorted back to perseverance to push me through the challenges. I have learned that not every event runs perfectly, and a leader needs to be able to adapt to the challenges. Perseverance has also helped me on the basketball court. This past basketball season, I was chosen to be team captain by my coach on the Girls Varsity Basketball Team at my high school. Being team captain is a very important job. For example, in a bad game, the team captain needs to be able to encourage their teammates to persevere  through the game and continue to work hard together. Working together on a team as a cohesive unit is the key to being successful. In the future, I aspire to be an even greater leader than I am now. My past and present leadership roles continue to challenge me and are preparing me for future roles that will have an even bigger impact on my community.

Don and Chris with Lauren at the Pure Insurance Championship
Don and Chris with Lauren at the Pure Insurance Championship

This was quite a year with the Life Skills Academy and Pure Insurance Pebble Beach Tournament. Can you share some of those highlights?

The Life Skills and Leadership Academy in Boise was phenomenal! I was surrounded by 90 other First Tee participants from around the country who were motivated just like I was. Not only did I form new relationships with other junior golfers, but I learned golf skills, drills, and more insight on the core values from coaches from other First Tee chapters. From the Pure Insurance, the skill level of every golfer at the tournament was unmatched. I’ve kept in touch with who I had formed relationships with at the tournament, and I’ve loved hearing about what golf was like after Pebble Beach, and even some signed to play golf in college just last month! Meeting these inspirational teens my age only pushes me harder to reach my goals in acquiring a golf scholarship in the near future.

What are your plans after High School?

In my future I aspire to have a career that relates back to athletics. I love the outdoors and I definitely enjoy the camaraderie between teammates and my coaches. My dream is to further develop my skills in golf to be a competitive student-athlete, applicable for scholarships. To do this I will keep my grades no lower than a 4.0 grade point average, continue my extracurricular activities outside of school, and complete 400 hours of community service through the “Commitment to Community” program, by the end of my Senior Year. I will work toward my dream of one day becoming a tour player in the LPGA. My backup plan is to take on a career that relates to athletics. My whole childhood revolved around extracurricular sports activities (weekly games, practices, tournaments, etc.). My interests have opened up my options from sports medicine, to sports marketing. Being involved in athletics my whole life has shaped me to become the student-athlete I am today.

Thank You to Local Fundraising Partners

The First Tee of San Joaquin has been the beneficiary of many fundraising events through the years and we continue to receive support from four golf tournaments each year.

First and foremost is the Ricky and Suzanne Barnes Foundation Tournament in the Fall. Ricky and Suzanne have been our biggest supporters the past 8 years and their event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars making a huge impact towards the success of our program. PGA tour pros visit Stockton each year to support Ricky and play in this first-class event. Local amateurs have a fun day rubbing elbows with these top golf celebrities and then enjoy a great dinner & auction afterwards. The First Tee of San Joaquin wouldn’t be where we are without Ricky and Suzanne!

Another long-standing golf tournament that supports The First Tee is hosted by the San Joaquin Medical Society. Each year locals gather to raise money for The First Tee and the Medical Society’s Decision Medicine Program. The event has been a huge success and keeps growing! Thanks to Dr. Adubofour and Dr. Khoury for their leadership in making this a great success.

If you’re looking for a crazy fun day on the links, look no further than the Midgley’s Public House or the Lovotti Inc. Tournaments. These two events sell out each year and raise thousands of dollars for The First Tee. Owners Mike Midgley and Scott Lovotti are dedicated community partners that take great pride in supporting local programs like ours. It’s no surprise that they are successful business people running a great restaurant and heating & air company. Thank you to both of them!

So, if you’re interested in having fun on the golf course and supporting The First Tee please consider signing up for one of these charity golf tournaments. Dates to be announced soon.



SJ Medical Society Golf Tournament
April 27th
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Midgley’s Public House Golf Tournament
April 27th
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Serving Our Youth

Last year, The First Tee of San Joaquin County was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation of San Joaquin. Over the course of 2019, the grant funds were put to good use at The Children’s Home of Stockton, TLC School for Homeless Children, and the Housing Authority County of San Joaquin (HACSJ). This grant gave the young people of the underserved neighborhoods of Sierra Vista and Conway Homes the opportunity to participate in the game of golf.

Kids getting golf lessons

“Our partnership with The First Tee has been a great success. Many of the children we bring to the program have never been to a golf course let alone been exposed to the game of golf and the many lessons the sport itself has to offer. Through The First Tee kids make new friends, learn about golf and valuable life skills in a fun-friendly, kid-safe environment. One lesson taught by The First Tee that stands out is respect, the children were taught when greeting someone one should take off their hat, look the person in the eye and shake their hand. It brings a smile to everyone’s face to see this lesson put into action.” Peter Ragsdale, Executive Director – HACSJ


Pure Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee

By: Chris Borrego, Program Director

Three of our players made it into the Pure Insurance Championship in 2018 – Skyler May and William Bensch, sophomores at St. Mary’s High, and Christopher Khan, a junior at Lincoln High. They played in late September at Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach. All three players are Eagle Level Participants in our program. The week was great – it was a little cold in the morning, but the sun would eventually come out, making for spectacular views.

Skyler played with tour winner, Chris DiMarco. He was a wonderful guy and in fact, Skyler did most of the heavy lifting for the team at Poppy Hills. Skyler showed that heart and determination is her trademark on the golf course. William played with US Open Champion, Scott Simpson. William had a very good day at Poppy Hills, shooting 75 on his own ball. Chris Khan played with Masters and PGA Champion, Vijay Singh. They were a great pairing, as neither is known for talking a lot on the course. Many times, they would walk down the fairway with each other in silence.

The Chapter sent a bus load of 40 kids and coaches down to the event on Saturday, September 29, where they met another 20-30 kids and parents who drove down for the day. They had lunch on the 18th Tee at Pebble Beach and the kids spent an hour going through the Chevron STEM Zone set up with many science, technology, engineering and math games and exhibits.

We then took their orange shirts and headed out to find Christopher Khan and Vijay Singh. Christopher had a spectacular shot from the bunker on #2 and spun it back to about 5 feet. Their view from the fairway was of 40-50 kids and coaches in orange First Tee of San Joaquin Chapter shirts. The group followed Christopher through hole 5 and then cut over to see Skyler as she was on hole 15. We were able to let out a huge cheer as Skyler made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th. A man leaned over from the tower behind the green and said that was the largest cheer of the day. Unfortunately, William was playing at Poppy Hills early that day so the kids on the bus did not get to see him. However, I went out in the morning and followed him for 9 holes and he was playing very well.

It was a wonderful week for the kids, as they were treated like tour players with dinners and activities almost every night. Many of the Senior Tour Pros were involved in the events with the kids. We look forward to a return with 1-3 players in 2019.

William Bensch
Christopher Kha
Skyler May

Community Foundation Of San Joaquin Awards $304,000 in Grants to Promote Health and Wellness in the Region

Community Foundation of San Joaquin awarded 16 nonprofits in San Joaquin County, including The First Tee of San Joaquin, a total of $304,000 from its competitive grants programs – the Community Health Fund and the Brian M. Stocker Fund – to support programs that promote health and wellness in the community. This is the second year that grants have been awarded from the Community Health Fund and the first year grants been awarded from the Brian M. Stocker Fund.

“We are proud to support this year’s grant recipients who share the same commitment we do to improving the health and well-being of our region. From cultivating healthcare workers who will stay in the area, establishing and strengthening educational programs that will teach youth healthy eating habits, to programs that support youth recreation, we are excited to see how the 16 organizations will help our community prosper,” says Moses Zapien, CEO and President of Community Foundation of San Joaquin.

Don Miller, Executive Director of The First Tee of San Joaquin stated, “This $20,000 grant will help create more opportunities in low and moderate income families to participate in our program. This grant will strengthen our reach in the underserved neighborhoods of Sierra Vista, Conway Homes, and The Children’s Home of Stockton, to give these young people the opportunity to participate in the game of golf.”


Ricky and Suzanne Barnes Foundation

We are so fortunate to have them as our biggest supporters!

On October 2, 2017, the Ricky & Suzanne Barnes Foundation sponsored its annual Charity Pro- Am Golf Tournament at Stockton Golf & Country Club. Some 88 players were joined by 11 PGA golfers including Ricky Barnes, Colt Knost, Kelly Kraft, Robert Garrigus, Greg Chalmers and Martin Flores, just to name a few. Numerous volunteers were also on hand to make sure the tournament ran smoothly. Ricky was gracious in providing a golf skills clinic before the tournament and showcased all of the PGA players. He and many of his fellow PGA players even provided helpful hints to whichever foursome they were paired with on the course. The Ricky & Suzanne Barnes Foundation is a huge supporter of The First Tee of San Joaquin. The bulk of the funds raised at this golf tournament, stemming from a rowdy live auction and numerous silent auction items, directly supports our local chapter, and for that we (volunteer coaches, kids, the Board, The First Tee staff) are so very thankful. We also express our gratitude to a few attendees who won prizes at the tournament and then donated them back to The First Tee! A putter was donated and in turn given to one of The First Tee volunteer coaches. Two golf bags were also donated to our two First Tee volunteer Coaches of the Year. Two sets of custom-fitted Wilson Irons certificates were donated – each set will be fitted for Anitra Khoth and Chris Khan, two junior golfers who have exemplified outstanding golf skills and play and demonstrated a commitment to The First Tee nine core values. It was an awesome day for all who attended, played and volunteered.

THANK YOU again to the Ricky & Suzanne Barnes Foundation for continued support of The First Tee of San Joaquin!

Anitra Khoth selected to compete at Pebble Beach

Original story
By Bob Highfill The Record’s Full Article Posted Jul 5, 2017 STOCKTON — Anitra Khoth woke up early Wednesday morning to watch “Morning Drive” on the Golf Channel. When her name was announced as one of the 81 participants from First Tee chapters across the country selected for this year’s Pure Insurance Championship, the 15-year-old incoming junior at Lincoln High didn’t jump up and down, or scream with excitement. “I really didn’t have much of a reaction,” she said. “It was more like an adrenaline rush. It was more like being speechless. It was really overwhelming for me.” Khoth will represent the First Tee of San Joaquin chapter at the Pure Insurance Championship, formerly the Nature Valley First Tee Open, from Sept. 19-24 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The event is part of the PGA Champions Tour, and the young players from the First Tee chapters will be paired with a PGA Champions Tour player. Last year, Lincoln’s Madeline Zunino, then an incoming junior, represented the First Tee of San Joaquin at the Nature Valley First Tee Open and played alongside eight-time major champion Tom Watson. In 2012, Anthony Madrid, then an incoming junior at St. Mary’s High, was the first representative from the First Tee of San Joaquin, which was founded in 2006, to participate in the event. His playing partner was Jeff Sluman, a six-time winner on both the PGA and PGA Champions tours. Khoth doesn’t know who her playing partner will be, but she’s excited about the opportunity. “The main thing I’m excited about is being able to meet new kids from throughout the country and to be able to talk to them and learn their different skills and strategies,” she said.
Khoth was a shy 8-year-old when she started with the First Tee of San Joaquin chapter at Van Buskirk Municipal Golf Course in Stockton. She stuck with the program, which teaches nine core values through golf, and honed her golf and social skills. Now, she’s a completely different person. “She was the shyest person around. She was quiet,” said Don Miller, Executive Director of the First Tee of San Joaquin. “Now, she has confidence. She’ll shake your hand and look you in the eye and carry on a conversation. Her confidence has grown so much and so has her golf game.”
Khoth and Zunino are the top two players on Lincoln’s golf team. Khoth led the Trojans to a divisional championship as the event’s medalist and started her sophomore season with four consecutive 1-under-par performances. On June 15, she was awarded the Best of the Record All-Star Preps Girls Golfer of the Year award. Khoth’s parents, Khoth Pech and Botha Suon, are natives of Cambodia. They also have a son, Leon, 10, who plays golf. Anitra is aware of the hardships and sacrifices her parents have made in starting a new life in America, and she tries to make them proud of her. “I actually do,” she said. “It means a lot.”


First Tee gives teen golfer new view of life

By Bob Highfill July 09, 2009 12:01 AM STOCKTON – Golf will take Ryan Ortiz on an unforgettable experience later this month. The 17-year-old senior-to-be at Weston Ranch High has been selected to participate in the Life Skills and Leadership Academy through the First Tee of San Joaquin, a program that provides golfing equipment and promotes character development to area youth. “I never knew First Tee could give me this opportunity,” Ortiz said Wednesday during a break from practicing at Van Buskirk Park Golf Course. “I never knew golf could take me this far.” Ortiz and 93 others from First Tee chapters around the country, as well as Ireland and Singapore, will participate in the academy from July 28 to Aug. 4 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Each participant was nominated by his or her chapter and selected based on their achievements and answers to an application that included essays. The golfers, ages 13-17, will live in dorms, learn leadership skills, receive instruction, and meet people from different walks of life. “I most likely will get something out of the academy to help me be a role model to someone who needs one,” said Ortiz, whose 11-year-old stepbrother, Michael, also is in the First Tee of San Joaquin. “When I was little, my dad was a big role model. I was driven by that. I want to be that for someone else.” Ortiz lost his role model about two years ago when his father, Miguel Angel Ortiz, died from kidney failure. Though Ryan’s parents split up when he was very young, he visited his father almost every weekend in San Jose. Miguel’s death had a profound effect on Ryan. “Right after my dad passed, I gave up on everything,” said Ortiz, who moved from Milpitas to Stockton with his mother, Nora Ortiz Abenojar, and stepfather, Meliton Abenojar, when he was in the sixth grade. “For a week, I couldn’t eat.” Eventually, Ryan wanted to honor his father by committing himself to something positive. He chose golf, the game he was exposed to while in the eighth grade by his stepfather, but had not previously taken seriously. Ryan joined the First Tee of San Joaquin at Van Buskirk and now plays almost every day. Last season, Ryan was the top player on the Weston Ranch golf team with scores consistently in the low 40s for nine holes. “All of his sadness is gone when he plays golf,” Nora said. “He forgets about all of that when he’s playing.” Ryan not only has embraced the instruction provided by the First Tee, he has applied the program’s nine core values (honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment) to his life. The most meaningful to him is perseverance. “I was probably extremely immature before my dad died,” Ryan said. “If I worked on something and if it didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I’d give it up. In golf, you have to practice and if you do, you’ll see results.” Meliton has seen the results. “His behavior has become more mature since he’s been attached to this organization,” said Meliton, who works for New United Motor Manufacturing Industries in Fremont. “He’s becoming so active and doing much better through sports. I know he has big dreams.” Ryan hopes to play golf at Delta College and perhaps earn a scholarship to a four-year university. His experience in Oregon certainly will motivate him to follow his dreams. Contact sports editor Bob Highfill at (209) 546-8282 or [email protected]