NCGA Golf

Spring 2017

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In November of 2016, further evidencing Northern California's prowess in the junior golf world, Jeff DeBenedetti captained Team California to the PGA Junior League Golf National Championship. C omprised of co-ed kids (the majority being Junior Tour of Northern California members) competing out of Las Positas GC in Livermore, where DeBenedetti is the longtime director of golf, the team's title win at Grayhawk GC in Scottsdale, Ariz. was its second such champi- onship claim since 2012. "I always say they beat the heck out of each other in our summer league, so when they go play somebody they're primed because they've been playing against some of the best juniors in NorCal," says DeBenedetti. For the team captain, working with kids to achieve their aims is what matters most on his own life scorecard. "I always wanted to be a coach and once I got into the game of golf it gave me that fulfillment. I love helping people achieve their goals," DeBenedetti says. "Hearing somebody tell me about the first time they broke 80 is more enjoyable to me than going out and shooting one of my best rounds." Trophies aside, with its bustling, year-round ACE program for juniors, the front man at Las Positas is foremost concerned with building championship character. "Our No. 1 priority isn't to make the player the best player; it's to make the junior the best person they can be," says DeBenedetti. "We believe that golf skills and life skills marry each other. We're very proud of that, and have a lot of good people; I can't even count how many future police officers have come through our program over the years." 24 SPRING 2017 | WWW.NCGA.ORG Perhaps someday, The First Tee will unveil its 10th Core Value and label it 'Steadfast' in honor of Kelli Corlett . D irector of Programming for The First Tee of Greater Sacra- mento since 2013, and the junior & disabled golf program director at Haggin Oaks since 2011, Corlett is tireless in her pursuit to use golf as a vehicle to change the lives of young people. Recognized by U.S. Kids Golf with a "Top 50 Teachers" award in 2015, Corlett's approach to working with kids is ensuring a fun and involved atmosphere. " It's been a pleasure to see and experience all facets of The First Tee," says Corlett, herself a former First Tee participant. "And I would say that the most influential part about the job is that the participants are really the best part of every day; it's rewarding, amazing to see the efforts paid off when the kids do something wonderful at school, go off to college or find a career that they love." With the Sacramento chapter now reaching over 18,000 kids a year, Corlett's scope of the program extends far beyond the lesson tee. And at Haggin Oaks in Sacramento, she has seen the junior program grow by approximately 50 kids a year over the past five years. Concurrently, her work with the facility's disabled program voices a call for inclusion across the game. "There needs to be multiple ways to communicate some- thing, and make sure all our participants feel welcome, comfortable and safe," says Corlett. "And it's very rewarding to look at the game differently. Some of our participants, they might hit a ball 10 yards and that's a massive accomplishment. It's so important to keep that in perspective and see what the game can do for folks and their families." PROFILES

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