Reverend Andy Anderson has been working with The First Tee program at Crown Park for years. Listen in as Andy and The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas Executive Director Rich Abraham discuss how the program has impacted young lives in the North Strand’s Cedar Branch community.
Reverend Andy has been coaching The First Tee since it was The First Tee of Myrtle Beach back in 2008, so we’re into their 11th year of running the program. They’ve crossed over from The First Tee of Myrtle Beach to The First Tee of the Grand Strand and now The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas. This program has always been here regardless of whether The First Tee was active or not. When I came up here, they had things running, and I just decided to become an assistant coach, and I’ll be up here every Friday with these folks. The Reverend keeps the community together, he keeps the kids golfing, they have basketball programs. I think he’s just been really important as a leader for this program, but also as a leader within The First Tee coaches.
When I came to this church at Cedar Branch community, we were doing the back door of this golf course, and The First Tee was getting started here in the area, and we connected. I said, “What a great ministry for the kids in the area.” The thing was that they had a problem here that kids and some folks in the area were actually vandalizing the golf course. When I came and met with the owners, they opened the golf course up to the community, and we started The First Tee program, and there was no more vandalism. The kids actually adopted the course, the course adopted them, and it just became a match made in heaven.
(The current course owners) have since bought the course and they bought into the program. Then we had Coach Rich Abraham, who’s come down to be the new Executive Director, expanded the program, and we’ve had kids to now play on the local golf teams. We’ve had my son that came up through the program, played club golf at East Carolina University where he’s now a senior.
The program has been instrumental in building character and, as you know, that’s what we do. We work on character as well as playing golf. Through golf we teach core values, like sportsmanship, and courtesy, and respect.
It got started with a nonprofit call SOS in Myrtle Beach and the Executive Director at the time who was working with us was Joseph Washington, who’s now a pastor in the area. Came to the Cedar Branch community and we worked on several initiatives, one being a health initiative, another being The First Tee initiative, and we got it started here. Crown Park was so amazing. We came to them, they offered up the course for whatever we needed and just became a great community effort.
I’m extremely grateful for The First Tee program and I’ve been able to participate on a national level. But here locally, the parents, and the volunteers, and these great kids that you see out here with such wonderful attitudes, it’s a fulfilling situation for me. I really love golf. I get to express myself as a teacher and a pastor in something that I’ve had a passion for for most of my life. So it’s a great win-win situation.