story and photos by Brittany Ransom
The question of "Who's Got Game?" was answered on Saturday (July 19) as The First Tee of Fort Smith hosted its Summer Scramble Adult-Youth tournament. Twenty-five teams took part in the event, making it one of the organization's most successful tournaments to date.
For the first time ever, The First Tee combined its annual "Pink Ladies" and "Boyz of the Tee" Tournaments into one larger event for boys and girls. The decision to merge the two was made in order to improve participation and relieve some of the scheduling constraints caused by the delayed start of summer.
"We have always talked about combining the tournaments because our kids enjoy the competition between boys and girls,” said Kris Scott, executive director of The First Tee. "It just seemed like the perfect time to try something new and so far, it’s proving to be a success because participation from both tournaments is up."
The scramble was open to players as young as age three, with each child paired with an adult. Kids and youth were divided into several age categories, including 3- and 4-year-olds, 5-8 years, 9-11 years and 12-17 years. The youngest age group played three holes, with the next bracket increasing to six holes. The older two flights played a complete nine holes, with prizes awarded to the top team in each age and gender division.
Cost for the tournament was $20 per team in advance or $25 for day-of registration. All participants were awarded a goody bag and t-shirt, presented by sponsor United Federal Credit Union. Proceeds from the tournament benefit The First Tee's programs.
"Our summer Scrambles are always highly anticipated by our participants and combining the two has only generated more anticipation than ever before," said Scott. "This is such a great way for moms, dads, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends to have an opportunity to mentor a young golfer and by combining the two scrambles, the option to play with anyone only strengthens that opportunity."
Winners for the Summer Scramble were: Devyn and Lance O’Daniel (Girls 5-8); Etta James and Sydnie Gamble (Girls 9-11); Mattison and Jeff Griffin (Girls 12-17), Isaac and Jeremy Parker (Boys 5-8); Landon and Lance Gregory (Boys 9-11); and Will and Billy Gibson (Boys 12-17).
Prizes were also awarded for the players getting the "closest to the pin." Winners included Devyn O’Daniel (Girls); Angela Bray (Ladies); Andy Moran (Mens); and Ian Bellisario (Boys), who achieved a "hole in one" during the contest.
Girls putting competition winners included Devyn O’Daniel (5-8); Etta James (9-11); and Mattison Griffin (12-17). Winners for the boys division were Ian Litchford (5-8); Gavin Litchford (9-11); and Ian Bellisario (12-17).
As part of its strategy to keep students engaged over the summer, The First Tee is holding a boys versus girls social media contest, challenging players to use the hashtags #ThisBoysGotGame and #ThisGirlsGotGame. Teams will compete over several weeks to have the most online presence. Scott heads up the girls team and Program Director/Coach Chris Murphy serves as the representative of the boys teams. At the end of the contest, the representative of the losing team will have to wear a tacky costume on the last day of class.
For more information about The First Tee of Fort Smith and its youth programs, call 648-9833.