Annual Heart of First Tee Award Recipient is all Heart

It’s only fitting that an award that has “heart” in it’s name is awarded to someone whose mission is to better the lives of others while keeping their heart in mind. We are thrilled to award Spencer Timmel, with the 2021 Heart of First Tee Award for going above and beyond to promote and further our mission through his passionate work with SCRATCHgolf and as a voice in the community advocating for our organization.

In 2012, Spencer and Erin Timmel were confronted by the unthinkable when their son Charlie was born with Transpotion of the Great Arteries and underwent 5 hours of open heart surgery at 6 days old. While Charlie’s surgery was a success and he is expected to live a full life, the Timmels understand the challenges families face when a child is born with a congenital heart defect.

So in 2016, Spencer approached First Tee about his idea of SCRATCHgolf – an organization whose mission is to  help heart kids socially, mentally and physically through the game of golf. Funded and organized by the Congenital Heart Alliance of Cincinnati and in collaboration with the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s, SCRATCHgolf allows kids take a mental break from medical issues, learn a game they can play for a lifetime, and gain some valuable life lessons through golf. By funding golf lessons, providing the access and the equipment, Spencer’s idea has come to life.

To date, 72 kids have joined SCRATCHgolf for their 3 day golf camp led by First Tee coaches and golf instructors. Following the camp, kids enroll in a First Tee program to continue to grow their love of the game and are encouraged to return each year to SCRATCHgolf camp and as many First Tee sessions as their schedule allows. Many of these kids knew nothing about golf until they arrived at their first SCRATCHgolf camp and now some play on their school teams!

The most incredible thing we see each year is when the kids return to the camp and see kids they met at SCRATCHgolf the year before. They are excited to see them and we are excited to see those friendships grow. But it’s not just the kids who are impacted and are building relationships, it’s their parents too! These parents share a common bond with each other. Their conversations at SCRATCHgolf camp are much different than what you would hear between parents on a playground.

Spencer’s vision of helping kids and their families mentally, socially and physically is having a positive impact in our community. SCRATCHgolf has since expanded to First Tee – Phoenix and in 2022 SCRATCHgolf will begin in First Tee – New Orleans and First Tee – Houston. 

Spencer, thank you for all that you do for the community and for your support of First Tee.

2021 Heart of First Tee Recipients – Owen Mockabee and Spencer Timmel
Spencer alongside SCRATCHgolf kids.