Only 50 students from hundreds of applicants across the nation attend the annual First Tee championship in Orlando, Fla., and this year Totino-Grace sophomore (and Plymouth resident) Austin Peters holds that honor. After what he calls a “very long and rigorous application process,” he was selected based on a number of leadership qualities. The fact that he’s been taking golf lessons through The First Tee since he was 6 doesn’t hurt, either.
“I started playing golf because I had asthma, and other more physical sports were more difficult to participate in when my asthma was flared,” he says. “When I was 14, I was invited by Brian Pabst, The First Tee program director at The Eagle Lake Chapter, to join The First Tee of Three Rivers Park District Youth Leadership Team.” There are four required projects that must be completed to successfully attain the final level, ACE, of The First Tee certification: An intense evaluation of the golf game, a review of career choices, an exploration of colleges and universities, and mentoring junior golfers/volunteering at golf events around town.
Peters takes from his trip to Orlando many fond memories, most notably the impact of one lecture in particular: How to Find a Job. “What surprised me the most was how much work goes into what appears to be a simple golf tournament,” he says. “I can’t think of anything that didn’t surprise me—the whole trip was one new discovery after another, not the least of which was meeting 49 other student golfers from all over the country who share many similar interests.”
Peters reignites his season this month, spending time in two golf leagues twice a week—one at Baker National and the other at Eagle Lake. “The most challenging course I’ve played is Calusa Lakes Golf Club in Nokomis, Fla., where I golf during spring break,” he says. “The easiest and most fun is Eagle Lake Eagle Golf Course in Plymouth.” This summer he plans to add Interlachen Country Club to his repertoire, as he can golf as a caddy there on employee day.
“I plan on continuing my involvement in The First Tee,” he says. “It is a great organization, and I enjoy giving back.”
Austin Peters stands out beyond the golf course. Some of his top accomplishments to date:
- A straight-A high school report card in an all-honors curriculum at college preparatory high school Totino Grace
- Acceptance into The Kathleen Murphy Scholars Program
- Being an Eagle Scout candidate through the Boy Scouts of America
- Becoming hand-selected by high school administration to be an ambassador to represent Totino Grace
- Obtaining a caddy job at the prestigious Interlachen Country Club