20 Stories in 20 Days

In 1997, the City of Hammond, the Mayor’s Office, the Hammond Port Authority, the World Golf Foundation and the USGA came together under a common goal to bring golf and the inherent life skills that accompany the game to the children in Hammond, Indiana and the surrounding area. Their shared vision resulted in the development of Lost Marsh Golf Course and The First Tee of Hammond. A former brownfield site, Lost Marsh Marsh Golf Course is now a premier course in Chicagoland with 27 holes, two putting greens, a driving range, a dedicated youth facility and a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired clubhouse with panoramic views. A lot has changed since The First Tee of Hammond/Lake County was formed, but what has not changed is the support of the Hammond Port Authority, the City of Hammond, the Mayor’s Office and the wonderful staff members at Lost Marsh. Our Chapter has been allowed to host classes, events, homework sessions and more knowing that our children will be welcome. The Hammond Port Authority along with the City of Hammond and the Mayor’s office have offered not only financial support but moral support and encouragement. Over 20 years, we have served tens of thousands of children, partnered with numerous youth groups, schools, and other organizations. None of this would be possible without the immense and immeasurable support of the Hammond Port Authority, the City of Hammond and the Mayor’s Office. We thank you for your unwavering commitment to the children.

Anacecilia V.

The First Tee of Lake County’s spotlight today focuses on Anacecilia, also known as “Ceci.” She started out at the age of four in our TARGET program that is geared toward our youngest golfers. She started her love for golf with early promise, winning her very first trophy at The First Tee of Lake County’s Youth Golf Extravaganza. Ceci took that momentum to another level, enrolling in every session The First Tee has to offer. Now in eighth grade, she is quickly emerging as one of our leaders at the chapter. This past summer, Ceci wanted to do more. She wanted to give back to all the young golfers starting their path to this great game. She volunteered countless hours at numerous locations helping our staff show our new golfers the ways to success. She is also a member of our LPGA Girls Golf program. Ceci hopes to carry her success in to high school, with aspirations of being a state champion.To help more teens like Ceci get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Steve O.

The most decorated participant at The First Tee of Lake County by far is Mr. Steve Outlaw. At our chapter’s inception in 1999, one of the first participants to learn about The First Tee’s Nine Core Values and Life Skills was Steve. He attended the very first Life Skills and Leadership Academy in Kansas, bringing home the prestigious Earl Woods Leadership Award. Steve quickly followed up with being invited to speak in front of Congress on behalf of The First Tee. Following his speech, the president of Georgetown College, who was next to present, dismissed his speech and offered Steve a full scholarship. Steve played four years of college golf and earned his degree. He then accepted a job with Troon Golf which has taken him across the globe spreading Life Skills and Leadership, as well as a great way to swing a golf club. He has spent time teaching golf in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia. He has shared his knowledge with numerous Tour players across the world, including Rory McIlroy and world number one Justin Rose. Steve has now traveled back stateside where he works as the Director of Golf at Wickenburg Ranch in Arizona. Even though thousands of miles sometimes separate Outlaw from his chapter, he never forgets where he learned the game that has shaped his life and provided him with a great education.To help more Alumni like Steve get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

David C.

The First Tee of Lake County’s next participant is David. Following in his older brother’s footsteps, David picked up the game fast. His favorite phrase was “Next year coach.” David wanted to fully understand the game in order to be the best he could be. By Tommy being a year in, David decided to take up the game he watched his dad and older brother enjoy. David’s game has developed in to something special. David has won numerous events including the Optimist Classic, The Ted Rhodes Junior Skills Challenge, The Adult/ Child Tournament, and participated as the youngest player on The First Tee of Lake County’s team which won the Great Lakes Territory Cup back in 2017. He also was a regional qualifier this year for Drive, Chip, and Putt. David and his brother Tommy also went undefeated this year in the PGA Junior League at White Hawk Country Club. David has become the definition of confidence. He has never backed down from any obstacle on or off the golf course. Whether it be playing against high school golfers in the Territory Cup or putting an awesome science fair project together and winning first place, David knows how to make it happen.To help more children like David get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Natalie D.

Our next participant we’ll shed a light on is Natalie. She has been a part of The First Tee of Lake County since 2009. Natalie has experienced every level of programming we have to offer. We have watched her grow in to a great young lady and an exceptional golfer. Currently a senior, Natalie has played on her high school’s varsity golf team all four years. In 2017 she was invited to participate in The First Tee’s Life Skills & Leadership Academy in Michigan. Natalie hopes to continue to inspire the next generation of young golfers by playing at the collegiate level next year. To help more teens like Natalie get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Brandon W.

Today’s #20Storiesin20Days spotlight goes to someone who goes above and beyond to positively impact the lives of those around him and not only that but is one of the driving forces behind our chapter. Many of you don’t know that current Program Director Brandon White, was one of the first participants of The First Tee of Lake County in 1999. He was also one of the first employees of Lost Marsh Golf Course! Brandon graduated from Indiana University Northwest, where he played four years of collegiate golf. Although he could have left the area to pursue other opportunities, Brandon made the decision to stay with The First Tee of Lake County to serve the youth in and around Hammond, Indiana. Coach, Coach B, Jedi Master, Big Brother, are all Brandon’s titles; in addition to The First Tee Recognized Program Director and Recognized Coach. Honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, kindness, and humility are only some of the traits that describe Brandon. He not only teaches these values but he lives by them. He is always there to lend a helping hand with a golf swing, a college application, or even a math homework assignment. We are more than lucky to have him as a part of The First Tee of Lake County family. Words will never be able to express the full impact he has had on the lives of thousands of children. So join us in this day of giving thanks to thank our very own Brandon White!

Hannah H.

For today’s #20Storiesin20Days we want to refresh your memory of an outstanding participant, Hannah. Being  involved with The First Tee of Hammond/Lake County longer than some of our staff, Hannah has spent countless hours volunteering during lessons (outside of her eagle class) year round at Lost Marsh Golf Course.  She especially enjoys helping the younger girls during our LPGA-USGA Girls Golf programs. With her diligent personality, Hannah was the recipient of the 2018 Ray Kenda Nine Core Values Leadership Award after attending the John Deere Drive Your Future Academy in Georgia and The First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy in Michigan. She also is the only golfer for HAST and has competed in Regionals in 2017 and 2018. When not playing soccer, golf, volunteering, or studying, Hannah enjoys helping her friends look their best. With her hard work on and off the golf course,  Hannah’s laugh, positive attitude, honesty, and perseverance is an inspiration to all. To help more teens like Hannah get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Noah M.

For today’s #20Storiesin20Days spotlight, we’re shining it on “the Deputy” of our members, Noah. This 4th grader has been a member of The First Tee of Hammond/Lake County for over 4 years, getting involved with her younger sister Jenna. With his courtesy attitude, Noah is always there with a helping hand. Always determined and using good judgement has given Noah even more confidence in his golf knowledge and skill. This past summer Noah certified into the par level. Noah is no stranger to competitive golf. Only a 4th grader, he has already participated The First Tee of Lake County Adult-Child Outing, Drive Chip, and Putt Championship, TED RHODES FOUNDATION, INC. Junior Skills Challenge, Hammond Optimist Junior Club Classic, and junior leagues. Along with playing on the golf course, Noah has spent numerous hours volunteering in his community and across the country. In his free time you can find practicing his guitar and repurposing items to give them a new look and meaning. We can surely say he brings a fresh and creative way to how we play golf. To help more children like Noah get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years

Peyton P.

Today’s #20Storiesin20Days spotlight is shining bright on alumnus Peyton Puckett. Currently a Senior at Purdue University,  she was a participant of The First Tee of Hammond/Lake County for nearly 9 years. While in high school she was a member of Munster High School’s Girls Golf team as well as participating in their STEAM programs. As an outstanding student and golfer, Peyton was the recipient of the Ray Kenda Nine Core Values Leadership Award in 2014. Peyton’s perseverance, can-do attitude, and hard work lead to her becoming a life skills instructor at The First Tee of Lake County. She moved on to doing multiple internships around the country polishing her IT skills while finding time to still volunteer at her local chapter. This upcoming spring, she will be receiving her Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and continuing her career in the IT world. Peyton’s loving personality is always on display at our chapter and make her a natural leader. We are so proud of her and cannot wait to see what the future has in store! To help more Alumni like Peyton get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Nick G.

#20Storiesin20Days spotlight is taking a moment to shine on high School junior Nick. Nick G. as he’s known around Lost Marsh was promoted to Eagle level in 2017! The coaches noticed an increase in Nick’s confidence when he realized that his golf game was on par with kids a few years older than him. That same year, Nick was selected to attend the Nancy Tennant Academy in Michigan with The First Tee of Benton Harbor. Currently Nick holds a varsity spot on Mount Carmel’s Boys Golf team. Nick’s humble personality and contagious confidence makes him the ultimate golfer. To help more teens like Nick get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Jenna M.

Today’s #20Storiesin20Days spotlight is on a participant who may be small, but her gracious and helpful personality make her larger than life! Jenna is a second grader and has been a part of The First Tee of Lake County for over 4 years and a LPGA-USGA Girls Golf member for 3 years. Jenna has always put a smile on the face of everyone she meets since joining the program. She is always willing to give a helping hand, whether it’s helping the coaches set-up for a lesson or helping her classmates with the activity. She has participated in many tournaments like the Optimist Junior Classic, Longest Drive contest, Ted Rhodes Junior Golf Skills challenge, Girls Golf Team Championship, and many more. When she is not playing golf she is volunteering within her community and across the country. Her courteous demeanor has garnered her the nickname “Coach Jenna.” Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. So “here here” to the biggest little coach around. #20Storiesin20Days #20years #GivingTuesday

Elijah R.

#20Storiesin20Days is flashing back to shine the spotlight on Alumnus Elijah! There are so many things to share about this Fisk University sophomore golfer. As a participant, Elijah was a member of the Merrilville High School golf team, where he competed at the state level during his senior year. He also participated in NIJGA (Northwest Indiana Junior Golf Association) tournaments, Optimist Junior Club Classics, Ted Rhodes Junior Skills Challenges, the Great Lakes Invitational, and other junior golf leagues and tournaments Not only an Alumnus of The First Tee of Lake County, Elijah is also a life skills instructor. Countless hours spent perfecting his golf skills and knowledge makes him a well-rounded athlete and mentor. His animated and relate-able coaching style has a way of grabbing your attention, whether you are an avid golfer or a beginner. Elijah is a hard worker and is fully dedicated to his craft; in addition to collegiate coursework and matches, Elijah has also volunteered with other organizations. Always stylish, he has a way of bringing out the best in others. His personal integrity and genuineness make him a natural motivator! #20Storiesin20Days #20years #GivingTuesday

Tyler C.

As we continue our #20Storiesin20Days, no one quite sums up The First Tee’s Nine Core Value of perseverance quite like Tyler. He has been a participant with The First Tee of Lake County since 2010. Currently a freshman, Tyler has taken the golf and Life Skills he has learned at our chapter to become an astounding young man on and off the course. The summer of 2018, Tyler was selected to attend his first Life Skills event at the Nancy Tennant Golf & Leadership Academy with The First Tee of Benton Harbor in Michigan. Upon his return, he  shared his stories of the championship courses played, meals prepared for the first time, college toured including his dorm experience, and the friendships developed over the fun filled week. Over the past couple of years, Tyler has played in local junior tournaments (even bringing home a few trophies), joined band, and so much more. With his golf skills and knowledge expanding, he is looking forward to participating in future First Tee, academies, events, and tournaments! To help more children like Tyler get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Alexandra B.

Today’s #20Storiesin20Days spotlight is shining bright on Alexandra. Currently a 5th grader, Alexandra has been a participant with The First Tee of Lake County since 2016 and has remained an avid golfer. Alexandra demonstrates the Nine Core Values in everything she does. She is not only a participant with The First Tee but she is also one of the first members of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program at Lost Marsh. During the 2018 KPMG Phill Day at Soldier Field, Alexandra got a chance to meet her golf role model, Mariah Stackhouse, receive a compliment from Phill Mickelson on her swing, and make her debut on the LPGA Tour Instagram page! Alexandra is an honor student but still makes time to participate in her school’s golf club, attend STEM camps, play tennis, and maintain her participation in theatre. (Whew! That’s a lot!!) It is amazing to see the great golfer she is becoming; there is so much more in store for her. To help more children like Alexandra get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days

Thomas C.

Today we are going to shine our spotlight on Thomas “Tommy” Castellanos. Tommy has been a part of The First Tee of Lake County more than half of his life. Starting off at age 5, Tommy quickly blossomed in to a great golfer, but an even better young man. Tommy has taken what he has learned from our chapter and has done great things on the golf course. He has racked up numerous wins, including our Adult/ Child Tournament, Ted Rhodes Junior Skills Challenge, and Optimist Classic. He also has participated in the PGA Junior League at our White Hawk Country Club programming site, going undefeated this year with his younger brother David. When he’s not on the links, Tommy and his family spend time giving back to the community, volunteering and fundraising for numerous organizations that help those in need.To help more children like Tommy get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days


Naomi G.

Naomi is a 7th grader, big sister, and golfer. Because of her passion and love of golf, she practiced every day after lessons. By the end of her first summer, Naomi was able to certify into the next level of programming. She certainly is on her way to Birdie level status. Naomi is not only a participant of The First Tee but she is a member of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. This summer Naomi was eager to learn how a golf course is ran and expressed an interest in running a golf course in the future. She spent countless hours volunteering, learning about golf course maintenance, and assisting coaches during lessons.  Naomi uses good judgement and encourages those around her. In addition, her level of responsibility in caring for her little sister is heartwarming. She has been a wonderful role model for a sister and the younger girls in Girls Golf. Watching Naomi’s confidence grow and seeing her “come out of her shell” is amazing. Her smile is sure to brighten your day. To help more children like Naomi get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days


Jasmine M.

Today we are shining on a bright 5th grader named Jasmine for the #20Storiesin20Days Spotlight. Known around the course as “Jazzy”, Jasmine is an avid golfer with a passion words cannot describe. For over 6 years, Jasmine has been member of The First Tee of Hammond/Lake County family. Currently in her golf career, she is a Chicago Drive, Chip & Putt Regional Qualifier, a member of our LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, and so much more. Through the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf program, we have seen Jazzy become more social, energetic, and just have fun. During the summer Jazzy has attended almost every girls’ golf event, including our team championship, Race to Rio Olympic-themed event, kite flying days, Earth Days, and vision days. When not playing golf, Jazzy is busy with numerous other activities, including acting, basketball, dancing, and singing. We almost forgot to mention she is a straight “A” student? Jasmine is all about hard work, and perseverance.  Her smile, enthusiasm, and humility make her nickname perfect because there no one more Jazzy than Jasmine. To help more children like Jasmine get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years #20Storiesin20Days


caleb P.

For today’s #20Storiesin20Days spotlight, we’re shining it on “the muscle” of our members, Caleb. This 5th grader has been a member of The First Tee of Hammond/Lake County for over 5 years, first getting involved with his older cousin. With his love of sports, Caleb made time around school and baseball to work on his golf game. Three years ago, he decided to retire his baseball jersey and dedicate his summers to mastering his golf skills. Always persevering and using good judgement has given Caleb even more confidence in his golf knowledge and skill. Rain, snow, or shine, Caleb is always working on his golf swing. This past summer Caleb certified into the par level. Caleb is no stranger to competitive golf. Only a 5th grader, he has already participated The First Tee of Lake County Adult-Child Outing, Drive Chip, and Putt Championship, TED RHODES FOUNDATION, INC. Junior Skills Challenge, Hammond Optimist Junior Club Classic, The First Tee of Lake County Junior Longest Drive for the past 4 years. Along with playing on the golf course, Caleb spent numerous hours volunteering at Lost Marsh learning the importance of golf course maintenance and how he can be responsible on and off the greens. We can surely say he is a mean, green, golfing machine. To help more children like Caleb get access to valuable life skills, click on the “Donate Now” button above. #GivingTuesday #20Years


Gary C.

Gary, known as “G” around Lost Marsh, is a Junior on the varsity golf team at St. Ignatius College Preparatory. Gary has been a participant of The First Tee of Lake County since 2009. Over the past 9 years, “G” has participated in numerous tournaments including national-level events. This past September, 80 participants from The First Tee network were selected for the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach, Gary was one of those luck participants. Gary won the Core Values Cup at Pebble Beach and secured a $10,000 college scholarship. Along with attending one of the The First Tee’s largest events, “G” was also selected to attend the 2017 Life Skills and Leadership Academy in East Lansing, Michigan. Gary definitely leaves his mark on everyone he meets, on and off the golf course, with his big smile and contagious laugh. If that wasn’t enough, “G” is a honor student and a self taught pianist. Gary’s perseverance is admirable; he never fails to achieve his goals. #20Storiesin20Days #20years #GivingTuesday