Q&A with Kylie McGrath, 17-year-old Ace member and First Tee Seattle superstar

Why did you join First Tee?
Honestly, I was very young when I joined First Tee (approx. 6 yo).  So, I asked my father this question.  In his own words…

“Although there were other junior golf programs, none compared to First Tee Greater Seattle.  I was very impressed with all the coaches and how they engaged with the kids.  I also felt that the First Tee was very well organized – the class sizes were manageable, there was a lesson plan with clear/concise goals and the participants (combination of boys and girls) all looked so happy and excited to be there.  It was an environment that I felt really good to put Kylie into.  And perhaps the most important aspect I liked, First Tee stressed the importance of the Nine Core Values (e.g. honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, perseverance, confidence, etc.).  Upon reflection, it really resonated with me.  It made sense that these qualities that you displayed on the course are the same that you would employ in life.  I absolutely loved it.  And that’s why I chose First Tee for Kylie”

As I progressed through the First Tee, I later registered for Girls’ Golf which was awesome because that’s where I met and bonded with many other girls whom I’m still friends with and continue to compete in various tournaments with today.  

What made you stick with golf?
My father introduced me to golf when I was very young.  Initially, I played to make him proud.  Now, I play because I love the game.  

Golf has shaped who I am as a person (strong, confident, focused).  

Unlike other sports where there’s a team you can rely on, golf is different: there is no team.  It’s just you, the player.  I’m entirely responsible for the decisions I make, how well I strike the ball, and the scores I put up on the scoreboard.  I celebrate my good rounds and then reflect on how I can do better in those not-so-great rounds.  Fortunately, I’ve had more successes than setbacks. It’s those successes that you, the player, worked so hard for that makes them that much better. And with each positive experience, my confidence in myself has grown.  

Golf has also positively shaped my life, and I know it will continue to be a huge part of my future.  

I’ve met so many wonderful people through golf and the First Tee Greater Seattle.  My golf network is large.  While playing in tournaments or attending First Tee events, I’ve met people from all across the United States and some from other countries.  I even had the chance to play with a PGA Tour Champions professional.  I’ve shook hands with leaders of our community and large companies.  If it weren’t for golf and the First Tee Greater Seattle, I don’t think I would’ve had this expansive network of friends and contacts. 

Lastly, it is because of golf that I maintain a very close and loving relationship with my father.  We spend so much time together – he is my biggest fan and sometimes my biggest rival.  And although I have to give him and his friends 20 strokes to have a chance at beating me, it’s just fun being out there with him.  We laugh and we poke fun at one another.  It’s a relationship that I cherish deeply.

What opportunities have you received because of golf or First Tee?  
Because of First Tee, I got the rare opportunity to play a PGA event (PURE Insurance Championship) and was paired up with a Tour Champions player (Dickie Pride – who was absolutely amazing.  And whom I continue to maintain contact with). Additionally, I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet and connect with a bunch of amazing people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for the First Tee. I have dear friends and coaches that I can turn to and know that they will help me through all stages of life. 

Your best memory with Girls Golf or First Tee!
Of course, the PURE Insurance Championship is a memory that can’t be topped via the First Tee. But I’ve also had the greatest opportunity to work closely with fellow First Tee participants, Lucena (Lucy) Villasenor and Natalie McKenzie to coordinate and plan a fun Halloween-themed “Bring A Friend” golf event! The entire process was a blast to be a part of! All the Girls Golf participants, their friends, the coaches, had so much fun practicing their golf skills, doing arts-and-crafts projects together, and overall forming new, meaningful relationships! It was an amazing event to introduce golf to more girls and a great way to stay warm in the midst of the cold fall!

Anything else you think would be pertinent information for other young, female golfers.
Don’t be afraid to fail.  Yes, golf is hard.  It can be very frustrating.  But it’s also a very rewarding activity that you can play for your entire life – and most anywhere in the world.  

My biggest suggestion–especially if you’re starting your own golf journey–keep it fun!  Don’t stress yourself out over bad shots.  Just like life, not everything goes your way.  But if you stay focused, remain calm, and persevere – golf will get easier!  And eventually (like I did – around 12 years old) you too will start playing better than your parents and their friends.  And that is when it really gets fun!