Teen Raises Over $70,000 for First Tee Chapters
When we first started the Tom and Melissa Briner Heart of First Tee award, we honestly weren’t intending for First Tee participants to be nominated. We wanted to recognize those who have had a positive impact shaping the lives of the kids enrolled in our programs! We shouldn’t have been surprised at all but as it turns out, our kids were also out there positively impacting and shaping the lives of others. For living and demonstrating the First Tee core values and going above and beyond to promote our mission, we were honored to award Owen Mockabee with the 2021 Heart of First Tee Award.
Owen’s love for the game began in 2009 after watching Tom Watson and Stewart Cink battle it out in a 4-hole playoff at the Open Championship. Owen’s mom, Wendy, knew she needed to get him involved in the game. “We saw a commercial for First Tee and thought that was something he needed to be involved in. We were thrilled to find a program within a few minutes of our house. I will never forget how excited he was when I picked him up after his first session. He couldn’t say enough about the people he met and the things he did during the class. At this point in his life, Owen was pretty shy, so I was thrilled to see him so excited about participating in the program,” said his mom, Wendy.
Goal setting is a big part of First Tee curriculum and Owen decided early on that he was going to move through the levels of First Tee to become ACE Certified – the highest achievement for First Tee teens. He is currently a senior at Lebanon High School and is working through the last of the 4 major ACE projects before submitting them to HQ for consideration. However, completing First Tee isn’t his only goal.
After his dad, Gary, shared Owen’s interest in golf with friends and colleagues, many of them wanted to play a round with him. Gary jokingly told Owen that so many people wanted to play with him that he should have an outing. Owen took this idea and ran and The Big “O” Classic was born. “Owen had a former classmate who had created a run to raise money for the Dragonfly Foundation so he thought he could do something similar with a golf outing. We asked him who he would raise funds for, and he immediately said First Tee,” Wendy explained. That inaugural year in 2013 had 32 golfers and Owen played one hole with each of them, raising around $3,000. Owen had so much fun that he immediately began planning for the next event.
Owen took on the role as chairperson of his event by holding event committee meetings, participating in meetings with the golf courses to organize the outing, and spoke to corporate leaders to ask for their support. He gained confidence with each and every meeting, year after year. Owen has now hosted 9 events and raised over $70,000 for First Tee chapters!! Some of the funding went to First Tee School Programs in elementary schools in Lebanon, where he attends school, and even used funds to purchase a new driver for a fellow First Tee participant who needed one before playing in a national First Tee event.
Owen has been a First Tee participant for 11 years but only with our chapter for the past year. “When First Tee – GMV chapter closed its doors, Owen had to use perseverance to keep his event going. Once he found out that First Tee – GCNKY was expanding into Butler and Warren Counties, he knew the event would continue and he would now support this chapter. He was able to use the skills he had learned in his First Tee classes to speak to past event participants about why it was important to continue to host his event, even if the chapter he grew up in no longer existed,” Wendy added.
In 2022, Owen will hold his 10th Big “O” Classic and hopes to make it the best one yet before heading off to college. We are honored to have Owen as part of our chapter and couldn’t be prouder of his heart. Congratulations Owen!