The First Tee of Central Valley celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, and its highlights already fill a memory bank.
It provides golf instruction and lessons in life skills to about 3,200 children each year from its headquarters at Modesto Municipal, local schools and other outlets.
It has touched the lives of about 17,000 kids since its inception, according to Sandra de Alcuaz, the executive director of The Del Rio Country Club Foundation, which bankrolls the local First Tee chapter.
It has featured young contestants virtually every year at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, the Champions Tour stop that welcomes the First Tee juniors with open arms. Better still, busloads of local students support their young heroes and receive national attention on the telecast.
But did you know the boss has visited The First Tee? No, not de Alcuaz. We're talking about Joe Louis Barrow Jr., the CEO of The First Tee, the leader of 202 national chapters.
And Barrow's been to Modesto twice.
The first was to celebrate the chapter's fifth-year anniversary. The second happened last November at the organization's annual fund-raising dinner at Del Rio Country Club.
Barrow's hands-on support says a lot about the local First Tee's impact.
"He has to fly from St. Augustine, Fla., to San Francisco and then take a car ride to get here. We really appreciate his interest in us," de Alcuaz said. "He recognizes how big a difference a program like this makes in a community like ours."
Barrow, the son of iconic heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, no doubt views the Modesto chapter as an ideal vehicle for his program. About 62 percent of the local children who benefit from The First Tee lessons are minority, a major target audience.
"Joe sees us as a chapter that is performing the true mission of The First Tee," de Alcuaz said. "I'm still excited about it because of the impact it has on the kids."
About 150 attended the dinner that raised about $70,000 for the upcoming year. Two Del Rio members and First Tee proponents received 10-year anniversary awards Jeff Burda for his volunteer and leadership work, and John Mayol as a philanthropist.
The First Tee will hold its annual open house at Muni on Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.
SCRATCH CHAMPIONS A seven-man team from Turlock CC won the California Scratch League's Northern California title late last year. The state-wide competition began with 65 teams, and Turlock won its pool (over Oakdale, Stevinson Ranch and Diablo Grande) and eventually beat Corral de Tierra for the NorCal title.
The team was one of four to advance to Valencia CC, where it eventually lost to champion Woodland Hills.
"The Woodland Hills team was stacked. Its No. 6 man was a 1-handicapper," said Ken Webb, Turlock team captain. "For our depth and age, we did pretty good. These matches were pressure-packed. Every shot had meaning."
Congratulations to Webb, head pro Doug Hanson, Nick Webb (Ken's son), Cliff Smith, Tom Clark, Marco Dusi and Nick Pedisich.
HOLES-IN-ONE Greg Barsanti, Modesto, 185-yard first at Escalon, 3-wood. ... Ray Wilson, Modesto, 148-yard 16th at Jack Tone Golf, Ripon, 3-hybrid. .... Duane Bartels, Modesto, 131-yard second at Del Rio CC (Bluff), pitching wedge. ... Bob Chapman, Manteca, 132-yard 11th at Jack Tone, 6-iron.