First time for First Tee

Meghan Doherty grew up on Elmridge Golf Course, learning the game and life skills at the same time.

So when she began a new job working for First Tee of Connecticut, she saw a perfect opportunity to do something that she loves at a golf course she loves.

First Tee of Connecticut, with Doherty’s help, will conduct a clinic for the first time in southeastern Connecticut at Elmridge in Pawcatuck. There is a First Tee program at the Submarine Base limited to military families.

The First Tee program starts July 13 and runs every Wednesday for seven weeks. Each session lasts about 80 minutes. Registration is limited to 30 golfers, ranging in age from seven to 12. No previous experience is necessary. Cost is $35.

“We are constantly looking to expand, particularly into that corner of the state,” said Mark Moriarty, program director for First Tee of Connecticut. “Having Meghan on board is probably the only reason it is happening.”

Elmridge teaching pro Chuck Slenker and pro Tom Jones also support the event.

Slenker has been Doherty’s instructor for several years. Doherty, a recent Holy Cross graduate, had a successful career on her college golf team.

The idea of bringing First Tee to Elmridge grew when Doherty was hired as assistant director for First Tee programs.

“I knew that Chuck wanted to start something because he had done some kids clinics with the Stonington parks and rec,” Doherty said. “There was nothing in that area (for First Tee). We talked about it with Mark. I told Mark that Chuck is my coach and he’s great with kids.

“… I really hope kids take advantage of it.”

First Tee teaches golf and lessons about life, incorporating the program’s nine core values — honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

The organization’s mission is, “to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”

“I think it’s great,” Doherty said. “I wish stuff existed like this when I was younger. … I’m very excited First Tee is coming to Elmridge.”

Short putts

- Some New London Country Club golfers utilized the home course advantage to place well at a Mohegan Sun Pro-Senior Am event last week.

PGA professional Dave Rhinehart combined with amateurs Tom Secchiaroli, Kevin Willoughby and Jim Schettino to tie for first place with a two-round total of 11-under, 131 (63-68).

Rhinehart also finished first in the individual professional competition, shooting a 1-under 70.

- Chris DeLucia of Norwich came close to qualifying for the 86th U.S. Public Links championship. Playing in a recent qualifier at Rockledge Golf Club, he finished fourth with a two-round total of 2-under 142 (72-70), earning second alternate honors.

- Ed Hilario of Norwich shared medalist honors with an even par 71 at a recent qualifier for the 109th Connecticut Amateur at Norwich Golf Course.

Other local golfers to advance to the Connecticut Amateur, which will be held June 20-24 at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton; DeLucia of Norwich, 72; James Lawler of Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug, 74; Chris Hornat of Shennecossett, 74; John Bauman of Black Hall, 75; Nick Torrance of Lake of Isles, 76; Steve Chevalier of Lake of Isles, 77; Michael Masso of Lake of Isles, 77.

- During one two-day period this spring, Stonington Country Club had three golfers score hole-in-ones.

Dr. John Urban had an ace on the 170-yard, 16th hole, using a five wood. On her first swing of the Stonington CC Women’s Golf Association league play, Debbie Meyer scored a hole-in-one on the 120-yard, 2nd hole, using a four hybrid. Mary Fox had her ace on the 90-yard, 12th hole, with a five hybrid.

Also last month, Bill Roderick aced the 140-yard, second hole, using a seven iron.

- Frankie Lee of Norwich, Roger Allen III of Ledyard and Justin Carter, Jr., of Mashantucket were named Lake of Isles junior scholarship award winners.

Upcoming events

The Elmridge Golf Course men’s senior club championship first round play begins Saturday, followed by second round action on Sunday.

g.keefe@theday.com

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