Tammy Palmer, CEO of First Tee-Golden Isles, witnessed Addison’s transformation firsthand. It’s not just the golfer she’s become, it’s how the teen has matured and been empowered by the organization’s core values.
“I guess one word, if I have one word for Addison, is joy,” she says. Like, every time I see Addison and I talk to Addison, she always has a very bright smile on her face, and she’s just such a sweet little girl, with a bright future ahead of her. …
“She has developed a lot of confidence over the past few years and has really developed into a wonderful young woman. And she has started to be a part of a couple of organizations in her school where she is on the board. … The amazing thing about it is that it is a new school for her. … And so, she jumped right in with both feet and . . . and would do a great job.”
A member of First Tee-Golden Isle, Addison has been a beneficiary of the RSM Birdies For Love program since her grandfather, Rich Sipan, enrolled her in summer camp at the age of seven. She loved tagging with him.
“It was just a way for me to go out and hang out with him,” says Addison.
She also played soccer, volleyball, and basketball, but by the time she was 10, Addison had begun to take golf more seriously. She and his grandfather play together on a weekly basis, but as he approaches her, she hasn’t hit him yet, “unfortunately,” she says.
Addison, a ninth grader at Frederica Academy on St. Simon’s Island, is drawn to the challenge of the game, as well as the friendships she has made. She’s going to be playing golf with the Knights this year, and was delighted to find out that there’s another girl on the team who plays “serious” golf.
“I think my favorite part of golf is just being there and playing and just enjoying seeing how good I did today or how bad I did and how I can improve,” Addison says.
Now that she’s older and a veteran, of sorts, at First Tee-Golden Isle, Addison volunteers three or four times a week. She started working with young children and now focuses on the 7-9 age group, teaching them core values and the game, as well as respect for the golf course.
Palmer says the donation from the RSM Birdies Fore Love program has allowed First Tee-Golden Isle to expand into three additional counties and provide life and leadership opportunities for more kids like Addison.
“We’ve been able to add a lot of specialty programs like the PGA Junior League, LPGA Girls Golf, and our school program, where we have our curriculum and equipment inside 25 high, middle and elementary schools,” she says. “And so, we’ve been able to expand that and create a lot more reach than we’ve done before.”
The First Tee lessons that Addison taught the little ones are the ones you know best. Core values - especially honesty and perseverance – are an integral part of her daily life.
“It taught me a lot about leadership,” Addison says of the First Principles. “I’m part of the leadership teams at my school that they have, and I think it’s helped a lot with that and also building confidence with that to be able to say I’m going to do it and actually do it and not say don’t.”
Addison’s ultimate goal is to get a college scholarship to play golf. Although she has already played in some tournaments, notably on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, she hopes to be a more regular participant in 2023, competing in at least one tournament each month.
Looks like it’s time to sell more candles.