Get to Know Bubba Watson


Get to Know Bubba Watson


Bubba Watson, five-time PGA TOUR Winner and Winner of the 2012 Masters, will conduct The First Tee of Central Florida Youth Day Junior Clinic at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday March 17, 2014 at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge Driving Range.  Participation is free for all participants under the age of 18.  *Parents do not need a ticket, they can enter with their child after 2:00 pm by letting the ticket agent know they are attending the Junior Clinic*

 Don’t Miss Out on the Fun
Sign Up Here for the Free Junior Clinic

Unconventional, incomparable, unprecedented: Bubba Watson is a name that stands alone on the PGA Tour and in popular culture in the present day. Watson’s unique southpaw style and exciting on-and-off the course demeanor has brought this down home southern boy from Bagdad, Florida, into international stardom. His style of play is exciting to watch and his personality is endearing to encounter. In summary, it’s hard to find another human being on this planet like Bubba Watson.

Fun Facts about Bubba Watson:

  • His dad gave him his first club at 6 and he hasn’t put them down since.
  • Self-taught player who learned the game by hitting wiffle balls around his house. 
  • imgGrew Up playing Tanglewood Golf Course in Milton Florida
  • Attended the same high school—Milton (Fla.) High School a few years after current PGA TOUR players Heath Slocum and Boo Weekley
  • As a kid, Watson wore knickers hand-sewn by his grandmother.
  • Uses a pink shaft in his driver and added a pink driver head in 2012
  • Wife Angie, is 6-foot-4 and a former University of Georgia, WNBA and European professional basketball player
  • Watson is also a member of the “Golf Boys”, a boy band consisting of Watson, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, and Hunter Mahan. Their hit song “Oh Oh Oh” is currently on Youtube.


  • Watson played golf for Faulkner State Community College in nearby Baldwin County, Alabama, where he was a junior college All-American. He transferred to the University of Georgia, the defending NCAA champions, and played for the Bulldogs in 2000 and 2001. As a junior, Watson helped lead the Bulldogs to the SEC title in 2000.
  • Watson turned professional in 2003 and joined the Nationwide Tour where he played until 2005.  
  • He finished 21st on the Nationwide Tour’s money list in 2005, making him the last player to qualify for the following year’s PGA Tour. 
  • Following his win at the 2010 Travelers Championship, dedicated the win to his wife and father, Gerry, who was battling lung cancer and later passed away in October of 2010
  • Without letting family and friends know, Bubba completed requirements toward a degree at the University of Georgia in the summer of 2008, thereby validating his push for kids to stay in school
  • imgPurchased the “General Lee,” one of the original Dodge Chargers from the 1980s TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” that he purchased at a car show. 
  • Among the longest drivers on the PGA Tour, in 2007 he had an average drive of 315.2 yards (288.2 m) and can hit a ball over 350 yards (320 m), capable of generating a ball speed up to 194 mph (312 km/h)].
  • He and his wife, Angie, adopted their son (Caleb) on March 26, 2012
  • In 2013 he was added to the list of Great Floridians by Governor Rick Scott.
  • Watson claimed his first PGA Tour win on June 27, 2010, in Cromwell, Connecticut, at the Travelers Championship on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank.[ Watson tearfully dedicated the win to his parents, specifically his father who was battling cancer.
  • Watson was invited on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after he sent her a video of a golf trick shot he completed for her birthday.
  • On January 30, 2011, Watson won his second PGA Tour event, the Farmers Insurance Open, finishing one stroke ahead of runner-up Phil Mickelson. 
  • Watson picked up his second win of the 2011 season and third career PGA Tour title on May 1 when he defeated Webb Simpson at the second playoff hole at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
  • Watson’s first major championship win came at the 2012 Masters Tournament. Watson recorded four consecutive birdies and tied for the 72-hole lead with Louis Oosthuizen at ten-under-par. In the sudden-death playoff, Oosthuizen and Watson both made par on the uphill 18th hole. On the next hole, the downhill 10th, both drove their tee shots towards the woods to the right of the hole. Oosthuizen’s landed in the rough 220 yards (200 m) away, while Watson’s ball landed deep in the woods on pine straw, 164 yards (150 m) from the pin without a clear shot to the green. Watson executed a miraculous recovery shot with 40 yards of hook on his 52-degree gap wedge and stopped the ball within fifteen feet of the hole. Watson trickled his birdie putt a foot past the hole, took his time on the very short par putt, then made it for the emotional victory.  His teary and emotional embrace with his mother and friends at the 2012 Masters is something that golf fans will remember for a long, long time.


  • Watson earned his fifth career PGA Tour victory—and his first since the 2012 Masters—at the 2014 Northern Trust Open. 

Play in the Footsteps of the Pros

Palmer BackgroundArnold Palmer

In 2012, World Golf Hall of Fame Member and golfing legend Arnold Palmer became a Trustee of The First Tee Organization and through a lead gift, The First Tee of Central Florida created the Arnold Palmer Scholarship Fund.

Through the annual outflows of this fund The First Tee of Central Florida will fund participant fees to ensure no child ever gets turned away from its program for an inability to pay, equipment, transportation and/or other programming related expenses.  Additionally, the fund will increase the opportunity for young people to have positive outcomes by experiencing positive social interaction with their peers in safe places surrounded by caring adults through the addition of program locations and program offerings.  The First Tee of Central Florida is committed to growing the fund to over $1,000,000 in the next 10 years.

Join The First Tee of Central Florida on Monday September 23, 2013 at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge for a great day of fun.  Proceeds from the event support the Arnold Palmer Scholarship Fund.  With the help and support of the fund, The First Tee of Central Florida has a five year goal of impacting the lives of over 4,500 Central Florida youth by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.  Through the success of the program, The First Tee of Central Florida will help boost student achievement, improve high school readiness and provide participants with the skills and tools needed to set and achieve their goals. Continue reading

The Home of The Nine Healthy Habits

The First Tee of Central Florida



The First Tee’s Nine Healthy Habits

Today, One In Three Young People Are Overweight or Obese

The First Tee of Central Florida is the home of The Nine Health Habits

Annika-cutoutThe First Tee Nine Healthy Habits were created through a collaboration among The First Tee, ANNIKA Foundation, and Florida Hospital for Children to promote healthy, active lifestyles for young people. The health habits are a list of nine health and wellness topics presented as a part of The First Tee National School Program and Life Skills Experience, formatted for easy understanding and learning by elementary-age students and chapter participants.

The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits represent a comprehensive approach to youth wellness and are organized under three categories of physical, emotional and social health. Participants who progress within The First Tee Life Skills Experience will learn age and developmentally appropriate health and wellness behaviors at each level of the curriculum.

Wellness Activities within The First Tee Life Skills Experience

At the various levels of the Life Skills Experience curriculum there are health and wellness activities.

  • PLAYer level participants are asked to demonstrate good judgment as it relates to healthy behaviors by choosing to properly prepare their bodies through exercise, nutrition, and hydration.
  • Par level participants are asked to set their Personal Par for wellness and physical activity.
  • Birdie level participants are asked to use STAR (Stop, Think, Anticipate, and Respond) for wellness and physical activity.
  • Eagle level participants learn “Stay Well for Life” through specific life skills techniques which are delivered to address a Healthy Body, Mind, and Heart. Some of the lesson titles include: Building Physical Wellness; Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle; Eat Right, Drink Right; and Personal Wellness Goal Ladder.

Physical Activity within the Game of Golf

The game of golf is a lifelong physical activity where players walk on average 5 to 6 miles per round. For a 150 pound person that carries their clubs, this equates to 350 calories burned per hour, with the average round consisting of 4 hours equates to 1,400 calories burned during the course of a round of golf. Practicing by hitting balls on the practice tee equates to 190 calories per hour for the same size person.

Kids Walking Course

“The First Tee has always shared my passion for building awareness around the healthy aspects of golf,” said Annika. “The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits are a smart and systematic approach to reach children about health and fitness, and educate them on healthy life skills that they can integrate into their lives, even outside of golf.

Nine Healthy Habits framework

Physical Choices
1. Energy: It’s important to make healthy choices, providing our body with useful energy.
2. Play: We must use our muscles and bones every day to stay fit.
3. Safety: Think ahead and make decisions to stay safe.
Social Choices
4. Vision: Everyone is born unique and can create his or her own future.
5. Mind: The mind is a powerful tool for health.
6. Family: One’s role as a family member is critical in maintaining wellness.
Emotional Choices
7. Friends: Healthy relationships are a part of individual well-being.
8. School: People never stop learning.

9. Community: We explore the health of the communities in which we live.


Incorporated physical activity (cardio, strength, flexibility, resistance) – PLAY – into core lessons

Warm Ups: The First Tee Golf Skills Curriculum, will have a physical activity as a warm up to every core lesson.

Stations: Physical fitness and wellness stations will be created and delivered within the core lesson activities’ rotation. Also, balance activities and movement skills can be incorporated into the transition time between stations.

On Course: Walking the course is congruent with The First Tee belief and strong recommendation that chapters should deliver the majority of programming hours on the holes of a golf course or a simulated course (75% at the PLAYer level and 50% at the Par, Birdie and Eagle levels).

Incorporate SAFETY and ENERGY during every class by:

  • Safety: encouraging the use hats or visors to protect their skin; remind participants to wear sunscreen and lip balm with SPF; utilizing tents and trees for shade when de-briefing class; and include regular water breaks for hydration.
  • Energy: providing participants with healthy choices such as fruits (apple, banana, orange, grapes), nuts and other whole foods at the start of class.

Arnold Palmer Donates $200,000 to The First Tee of Central Florida and Establishes Arnold Palmer Scholarship Fund

Arnold_Palmer.jpg-7998ORLANDO, FL (March 18, 2013) – Arnold Palmer, Hall of Fame golfer and The First Tee National Trustee, has made a $200,000 donation to The First Tee of Central Florida chapter to establish The Arnold Palmer Scholarship Fund.  Through Mr. Palmer’s lead gift and support as Honorary Chairman, The First Tee of Central Florida is committed to growing the fund to over $1,000,000 in the next 10 years.  With the help and support of the fund, The First Tee of Central Florida has a five year goal of impacting the lives of over 4,500 Central Florida youth by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.  Through the success of the program, The First Tee of Central Florida will help boost student achievement, improve high school readiness and provide participants with the skills and tools needed to set and achieve their goals.

Mr. Palmer’s contribution will allow The First Tee of Central Florida to continue to maintain the policy that no child ever gets turned away for an inability to pay to participate.  Additionally, the fund will increase the opportunity for young people to have positive outcomes by experiencing positive social interaction with their peers in safe places surrounded by caring adults through the addition of program locations and program offerings. 

Arnold Palmer Accepting a Plaque“I am extremely pleased to give my support to this recently established chapter of The First Tee in Central Florida.  This community has long been my second home, along with so many other professional golfers,” said Palmer.  “It is a wonderful opportunity to grow the game, and the life lessons and skills, that align with golf in an area so rich in golf.”

Since October 2012, when The First Tee of Central Florida began delivering its Life Skills Experience Programs at Hunter’s Creek Golf Club, The First Tee of Central Florida has added an additional programming site, Winter Park Country Club and increased participation by over 140%.  Through strategically planned growth, The First Tee of Central Florida plans on partnering with additional golf clubs to provide the Life Skills Experience Programs in 2013.

“We could not be more honored by Mr. Palmer’s gesture and we are extremely grateful for his support.  His generosity will allow thousands of local youth to gain exposure to the game of golf through The First Tee program and more importantly learn the positive core values, healthy habits, and life skills associated with the game.  We are beyond excited,” said Matt Certo, Board President of The First Tee of Central Florida.

As Honorary Chairman, Mr. Palmer joins The First Tee of Central Florida’s Honorary Board Members Annika Sorenstam, Ken Griffey Jr., Doc Rivers, Tracy Stewart and Golf Channel President Mike McCarley.

TFTCFL’s Board of Directors is comprised of Matt Certo, WebSolvers (President); Scott Walker, Golf Channel (Vice President); Jon Johnston, BB&T-J Rolfe Davis (Treasurer); Sarah Pape, Zimmerman, Kiser & Sutcliffe. P.A. (Secretary); Jay Brennan, Gray Robinson; Michael Crosbie, Shutts & Bowen; Andrew Fleming, Golf Channel; Brandon Johnson, Arnold Palmer Design Company; Mike McGee, ANNIKA and Gene Lee, Darden Restaurants.

For additional information about how area golf clubs, children, or companies can get involved with TFTCFL, please contact Tom Lawrence, Executive Director at or

About The First Tee of Central Florida

The First Tee of Central Florida (TFTCFL), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization dedicated to providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Through The First Tee’s Life Skills Experience Program young people are introduced to positive life skills, core values and healthy habits while learning the game of golf. TFTCFL’s currently conducts its programs at Hunter’s Creek Golf Club in Orlando and Winter Park Country Club in Winter Park.

For more information:,, @thefirstteecfl




Get to Know: Boo Weekley PGA TOUR Player

weekley_448x266We are very honored to have Boo Weekley  be the PGA TOUR Player who will be on hand at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior Clinic.

Weekley was born in Milton, Florida. He turned professional in 1997 and played on mini-tours until 2002, at which time he qualified for the PGA Tour. He made the cut in only five of 24 events that year, and lost his tour card. From 2003 through 2006, he played on the Nationwide Tour, finishing well enough in 2006 to again qualify for the PGA Tour. His first victory came at the Verizon Heritage in April 2007. Continue reading

Impacting, Influencing, & Inspiring – 2013 The First Tee Network Meeting

Stage is SetEvery two years, hundreds of board members, staff, and volunteers from across The First Tee Network come together for a three days of education, passion and inspiration.  This year over 700 attendees representing all different backgrounds came together to share the same deep love about a mission near and dear to our hearts.  The mission is simple making our communities better places by impacting the lives of young people through the game of golf.  The First Tee’s 2013 Network Meeting took place from February 28 – March 2 in Nashville, Tennessee at the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  Nashville was a great host and so proud to host our organization, the city proclaimed February 28 as The First Tee Day in the city.

This year, The First Tee of Central Florida was represented at the Network Meeting by Board Member and Golf Channel On-Air Personality Scott Walker and Executive Director Tom Lawrence.

As always, the meeting kicked off with an entertaining introduction with meeting host and new Southeast Director of Regional Affairs Al Arrigoni and Home Office sidekick Brandon Luna playing air guitar to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck.  After pumping up the crowd, the General Session Featured Speaker Tim King, Founder, President and CEO of Urban Prep Academies, an extremely successful Charter School in urban neighborhoods of Chicago.  The dropout rate of students in the Chicago Public High Schools is just under 40%, however, 100% of College Prep students have gone on to further their education by attending college.  Mr. King’s speech really focused on changing the “culture” in the kids perception of life, especially in the tough inner city, letting them know that they do not have to be just another statistic. Mr. King resonated the crowd with the quote, “if you want to change the dance, you need to change the music!”

Amber Hardeman

Following Mr. King, The First Tee of Greater Dallas Alumnus, and current student at Vanderbilt University, Amber Hardenman, spoke about her dreams and the importance of initiative among young people (her 10th Core Value).  Amber credited The First Tee with giving her the ambition to create dreams she’d never imagine using the philosophy “shoot for the moon because if you miss you will among the stars”.

Thursday’s General Session concluded with an update on the network’s progression to reach its Phase IV goals.  The Phase IV Strategic Plan is designed to make The First Tee a greater force for good in society with ever-increasing relevancy in thousands of communities across America and around the world. Through participation in the lifelong sport of golf and exposure to its inherently positive values, young people will stay in school, lead a healthy lifestyle and be prepared for success in life.  The update confirmed that The First Tee is well on pace to reach its lofty goals and objectives by 2017, including reaching over 10 million more young people, increasing opportunities for girls in golf, diversifying golf, and growing donors.

One of the best parts about The First Tee Network is the openness and willingness of chapters to share best practices to make our network stronger.  Chapter leaders go out of their way to make sure that our organization is a positive “Force Fore Good” (the slogan of the 2011 Network Meeting).  Many of these best practices are shared and taught during breakout session, challenging chapters to grow and make a bigger difference in their communities.

Friday, kicked off once again with a General Session.  While Thursday’s session focused on education, Friday’s session focused on health and wellness.  Friday’s first speaker was Dr. Shari Barkin, a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt.  Dr. Barkin’s speech focused on the importance of not only educating young people on the importance of proper high nutrient diets, but rather the entire family, and the importance of making healthy choices as families.  Additionally Dr. Barkin spoke about the importance of exercise, and although golf isn’t typically considered a high energy sport, walking 18 holes of golf can burn over 1,200 calories, a great workout.

AnnikaFollowing Dr. Barkin, The First Tee of Central Florida’s Honorary Board Member and World Golf Hall of Fame Member Annika Sorenstam talked about the importance of the Nine Healthy Habits.  Annika’s speech was deeply passionate about the importance of young people living active healthy lifestyles.  Annika reflected on her childhood where she used to play in unstructured environments, something many young people no longer do.  Annika also talked about the game of golf and the importance of making the game quicker, playing 18 holes in less than 4 hours.

After Annika’s inspiring speech, The First Tee presented former USGA President and Board Member of The First Tee of San Francisco Sandy Tatum with the Jack Stephens Leadership Award.  Upon receiving the award, a 92 year old Tatum told the crowd “The First Tee ROCKS!”

Upon the conclusion of the General Session, the meeting held The First Tee Chapter Network Awards Luncheon.  At the luncheon, Executive Director, Tom Lawrence was acknowledged as a Recognized Executive Director.  Tom is now one of 20 members of The First Tee Network to be designated as both a Recognized Executive and a Recognized The First Tee Coach.

Joe BarrowSaturday’s General Session featured a philanthropic round table featuring foundations, individuals, and corporation who talked about giving strategies.  The session concluded with an inspiring “State of The First Tee” speech delivered by CEO Joe Louis Barrow.  Mr. Barrow’s speech inspired the network to go deeper, not just to make an impact on our young people but to make societal change.  Today, where one in four public high school students drop out, one in three young people are overweight or obese, and one in three young people say they lack an adult role model, The First Tee fills can make a societal change by equipping young people with the skills and values to overcome adversity and thrive.

Young ParticipantsFor the first time in Network Meeting history, this year’s meeting hosted first-ever Outstanding Participant Summit.  Thirty-two teens were selected from a national pool of The First Tee chapters to attend an interactive and educational event in which they had the opportunity to develop and hone skills to become leaders in their chapters, schools and communities.  Sessions during the Summit covered a variety of topics including college preparedness, the importance of community service and volunteerism, and environmental sustainability.

Finally, to conclude these three great days, The First Tee hosted its “Spotlight on Youth” Gala Dinner.  The dinner was highlighted by a visit and speech from The First Tee Honorary Chairman George W. Bush.  Prior to the dinner, our own Scott Walker got the opportunity to meet the former President and pose for a picture, in which President Bush titled “The Two Walkers”.WalkersThe dinner was hosted by Country Legend Vince Gill, a strong passionate advocate for The First Tee.  In addition to Mr. Gill, speakers included PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and The First Tee’s Campaign for 10 Million Young People Chairman, Jim McGlothlin, who talked about why The First Tee is making such a difference in our communities.  The dinner concluded and was highlighted by awarding Mallory Stack of The First Tee of Pittsburgh and Tommy Swearingen III of The First Tee of Atlanta with the Outstanding Participant Award, both receiving a $15,000 scholarship for college. Both winners had amazing stories, serving as positive role models in their communities and making a difference among the young people at the chapters they attend.

The First Tee Network meeting was amazing and through this great organization, our future is in great hands.  Although The First Tee of Central Florida is a new chapter, it is bound and determine to make our community a better place for our young people to grow up and thrive because as Mr. Barrow says, “the greatest investment we can make as a society is in our young people, because they represent 100% of our future”.  We cannot wait to attend The Network Meeting in 2015 and share our successes.