Sunday morning, October 25, 2022 was a bright, beautiful day for golf at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland. The fairways were quiet and serene at that time of day. Over at the club’s practice facility, however, it was a different story where a very special golf event was taking place.
Forty-two young golfers were showing off their skills, getting their golf swings analyzed, and hitting a lot of golf balls during a free youth golf clinic sponsored by PNC Bank that was part of the inaugural Howard-USF Intercollegiate golf tournament. The event was hosted by Jermaine Johnson, PNC regional president for Greater Washington and Howard University golf coach Sam Puryear.
Participating youth came from three Washington-area organizations: First Tee of Greater Washington, DC; First Tee – Greater Baltimore; and the Prince George’s County, Maryland Parks and Recreation Junior Golf program.
First Tee is a youth development organization for boys and girls ages seven to 18 who are interested in playing and learning the game of golf. It enables kids to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges. By seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, First Tee creates active learning experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that kids can carry to everything they do.
Johnson has a special regard for the First Tee program. He began volunteering with the program 20 years ago after having been introduced to the game of golf by his uncle.
“My uncle taught me that learning about golf is a way to learn about life,” he said.
While addressing those who gathered at the event, Johnson had a message for the parents: “Parents, this all starts with you. It’s your investment in the children that will help them get started on the right path. I encourage you to stick with this program and encourage your kids to give it all they’ve got.”
The golf coaches from each team also participated in the event by answering many questions from parents, offering sage advice to both parents and kids, and providing individual instruction to the young golfers.
Coach Puryear pointed out to the youth that the college players had all been in their shoes.
“The students on these golf teams are from all over the world. They all worked hard and were very good students. They’ve proven that dreams can come true if you are willing to put in the time and listen to those around you,” he said.
“The youth clinic was a very special day for Sam and me,” said Jack Kennedy, tournament co-host and head men’s golf coach at the University of San Francisco. “That’s what this is all about, growing the game and it starts with the kids at a young age. Not only did we have an incredible turnout with the kids and their parents, but what people don’t know is that we told all the teams it was optional to show up. All nine teams, 54 players, were there and supporting the clinic.”
The director of First Tee – Greater Baltimore, March Klein, said “the event was outstanding and provided our kids with a very memorable learning experience.”
In addition to Johnson, seven PNC bankers volunteered to coach the youth during the clinic: Sarah Deihle (Corporate Banking); Andre Jaundoo (Commercial Banking); K.C. Koch (PNC Private Bank); Mike Matteson (Commercial Banking); Dave Smith (Commercial Banking); Marc Tohir (Commercial Banking); and Rishi Vyas (PNC Private Bank).
The men’s college teams who participated in the clinic and in the tournament— which was held on Monday, Sept. 26 and Tuesday, Sept. 27— included teams from national, local and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs):
Howard University – Washington, D.C.
University of San Francisco – San Francisco
Georgetown University – Washington, D.C.
George Washington University – Washington, D.C.
University of Maryland – College Park, Md.
Alabama State University – Montgomery, Ala.
Alabama A&M – Huntsville, Ala.
Virginia Commonwealth University – Richmond, Va.
Towson State University – Towson, Md.
Host team University of San Francisco won the tournament after rounds of 275-286-305. Gregory Odom Jr. from Howard University placed first individually, finishing with a final score of 213 (+3). Howard had three players place in the top five.
The tournament will move to San Francisco in 2023 and return to Potomac in 2024.