2016 Participants Announced for the Golf to Paradise – First Tee Champions Challenge

FIRST TEE - Website

The Chubb Classic seeks to engage young golfers by inviting several First Tee Chapters from throughout the country to participate in a three-day golf competition at the TwinEagles Club in Naples, Fla. during the Chubb Classic, February 9 – 14, 2016. On behalf of the Naples, Marco Island, Convention and Visitors Bureau, 18 First Tee participants (two participants from nine different chapters) have been invited to participate in the Golf to Paradise – First Tee Champions Challenge.

Teams will play nine holes each of the three days with a different format every day. On Friday, the groups will play in a scramble, followed by a modified alternate shot on Saturday, and finishing out the weekend playing a better ball format on Sunday. Total score upon completion of all three formats will determine our winners at this year’s First Tee Champions Challenge.

Below are the 2016 participate in the Golf to Paradise – First Tee Champions Challenge. Each of the players biography was written and submitted by themselves to give the Naples community insight on their love for the game of golf.


The First Tee of Naples/Collier

Kelly NewbroughKelly Newbrough

16 years old

Junior, Barron Collier High School

BIO: Kelly Newbrough began playing golf at the age of 6.   She joined The First Tee of Naples/Collier at the ager of 7. Over the years, Kelly has completed the first four levels of The First Tee and is currently at the ACE Level.  She attended The First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy in San Diego in the summer of 2014 as well as represented The First Tee at the Florida State Team Championship over the past 3 years and played in the CME Pro-Am this past fall.   Because of The First Tee Kelly has participated in many volunteer opportunities, made lifelong friendships while learning positive life lessons along the way.  During her elementary and middle school years she competed for her school golf team through The First Tee.  For her high school golf team Kelly was the first freshman to win the conference, won regionals as a sopho9more and has been a part of a record breaking high school team.  Kelly has been playing in tournament golf since the age of 10.  Kelly’s future goals include continuing her golf career in college.

Peter GeorgePeter George

16 years old

Junior, Gulf Coast High School

BIO: I have been playing golf ever since I can remember, then a few years before that. It has been an intregral part of my life with not only the countless hours I have put in after school but also the lessons I have learned along the way.  I started playing competitively through The First Tee in third grade and ever since then I have been playing in more and more events.  Persevering has led me to win several tournaments and this past year my high school team was a contender at the state golf tournament.  I learned about the 9 Core Values through The First Tee which has helped me in all aspects of my life, on the golf course and off.  During my years participating in The First Tee, I have met some of my best friends and made many priceless memories.  The past summer I was selected to attend The First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy in Blaine Minnesota.  Over the years I have also been selected to represent our chapter in the Florida State Junior Team Championship Tournament in Orlando.  Throughout all of this, The First Tee has been there to support me and lead me to opportunities I could only dream of.


The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia

Gabriella Anna MorgantiGabriella Anna Morganti  

18 years old                 

Senior, Academy of Notre Dame  

BIO:  I have been playing golf for as long as I can remember! I play for my club’s team as well as playing in events through the Philadelphia Junior Tour. I am also the captain of my high school golf team which has been undefeated for six years now.

Kyle SpauldingKyle Spaulding Jr.

17 years old      

Senior, Central High School

BIO: Before I joined the golf team at Central, I often went to the driving range and to Walnut Lane Golf Course on weekends with my dad since I was 5 years old. My golf career really began in my first month of high school. That is when I joined the First Tee and Central’s golf team as well. Freshman year I joined the team mid-season and we finished second in the Philadelphia Public league. After much practice over the summer and lessons from the First Tee, in my sophomore year I became the number 1 on my team and won the individual Public League title and we finished second again as a team. We also finished second for the third straight year in my junior year. In my senior season we finally overcame the hurdle and won the Public League championship for the first time since 2011. I also won the Public League individual title for the second time.


The First Tee of West Michigan

Andrew DeYoungAndrew DeYoung

18 years old

Senior, Kenowa Hills High School

BIO: Andrew began playing golf at a young age with his dad. After his father passed away at the age of 13, his mom enrolled him into The First Tee of West Michigan, with the hope of finding someone to help him navigate life. Andrew’s golf talent soon became evident to the staff at The First Tee.  In addition, his maturity and character developed significantly while in The First Tee. Andrew is currently the starting goalie on his high school’s varsity hockey team. He also serves as the team’s captain, and credits his leadership skills to his participation and experiences in The First Tee. Andrew works at a local country club, and plans to attend Ferris State University next fall for PGA Golf Management.

Dominic LucianiDominic Luciani

14 years old

Freshman, East Grand Rapids High School

BIO: Golf was just a hobby for Dominic until he was enrolled in The First Tee of West Michigan two and a half years ago. He credits The First Tee with the development of his leadership skills and the improvement of his golf game. This past summer Dominic worked as a caddie at a local country club and attended The First Tee’s Nancy Tennant Golf & Leadership Academy in Benton Harbor.  This spring, he will try out for his high school golf team.


The First Tee of Chicago

Trevor BrittonTrevor Britton

16 years old

Junior, Warren Township High School

BIO: I started playing golf when I was 8 years old. My dad introduced me to the game while at a driving range. He taught me all the basics of how to play the game. From there, I began practicing at home and on the golf course. My dad saw how quickly I caught on to the game and signed me up for the First Tee Program. Shortly after I joined, I was mentored by Darryl Stackhouse, Education Director/ PGA Professional, of the First Tee. He told me how talented I was and encourages me to continue to pursue golf. Because of that, I now play varsity golf for all 3 years at my high school.

Abdel RaoulAbdel Raoul

15 years old

Freshman, Mount Carmel High School

BIO: I have been playing golf for eight years and have been a member of the First Tee of Greater Chicago for about three years and currently at Eagle level. I am striving to reach the Ace level. I have played with the Bob-O-Links Junior Golf League for seven years and have been a participant in the Midwest Golf Association Junior tournaments for the past four years. I was on the PGA Junior league Chicago team for the summer and fall of 2014. I also play in Illinois Junior Golf Association tournaments in the summer.

This past summer, I participated in the First Tee of Benton Harbor Leadership Academy, where I was awarded the Leadership Award and Top Chef Award for my jerk chicken with mango chutney.


The First Tee of Northwest Arkansas

Kendall VermilionKendall Vermilion

17 years old

Senior, Fayetteville High School

BIO: Kendall’s golf career, though very short, has grown quickly in its duration.  It all began when a friend introduced her to the sport in late winter of her sophomore year. Her father was able to teach her the fundamentals but soon she needed minute fixes that transferred her over to a swing coach.  This brought her to The First Tee of Northwest Arkansas. Here she was able to build friendships and work on her game, all while having fun and developing self-confidence. By the time tryouts for the high school team came around, Kendall was ready and made the team for her junior year. The subsequent year, she was deemed team captain and led her team to the State Championship where they fell short of advancing to the finals, but she and a teammate were able to advance as individuals. In the process of choosing the university she will attend to pursue her education in meteorology and atmospheric sciences, Kendall hopes to continue playing golf at the collegiate level.

Ethan Loafman

Ethan Loafman

14 years old

Freshman, Rogers High School

BIO: I enjoy golfing with my dad and my friends from the First Tee. I have been golfing ever since I was four years-old and have been participating in the First Tee activities for three years, one year in UT and two years here in NWA. In the two years in the NWA, I have earned my Birdie, Eagle, and Ace certification and am now working on my Ace certification. I was on the Rogers High School Golf Team last fall as the only freshmen. My golf career has been my top priority for the last two years and my goal is to earn a golf scholarship to a university.

I am honored to represent The First Tee of Northwest Arkansas at the 2016 First Tee Champions Challenge. This opportunity is a once in a life time experience. The First Tee is an amazing organization that allows me to learn more about the game of golf and improve my golf skills but more importantly it has taught me that the Nine Core Values can be used not only in golf but in my everyday life.


First Tee of Pittsburgh

Joseph AuthJoseph Auth

18 years old

Senior, Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School

BIO: I began golfing around the age of 5 or 6 when I lived in Pensacola, Florida. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2004 and began playing in local tournaments a few years later. I haven’t won any tournaments though. I played on my high school’s JV team all of my freshman year and most of my sophomore year. I finished my sophomore year on varsity and played on the varsity for my junior and senior year. I would like to play golf in college but who knows if it will happen.

Ted RittsTeddy Ritts

15 years old

Sophomore, Woodland Hills High School

BIO: I am a Sophomore at Woodland Hills High School with a 3.9 GPA. I have been on the varsity golf team for two years and will be the team captain in my Junior year. I have been golfing with The First Tee of Pittsburgh since I was seven years old. I also enjoy coaching the younger golfers in The First Tee clinics. I strive to get better at golf every time I play. I play golf as much as I possibly can, to better my game and because golf is my passion.


The First Tee of the Triangle

Ashley KimAshley Kim 

16 years old

Junior, Durham Academy

BIO: Golf Career Bio: I started golf because of The First Tee when I did introductory classes at the age of 13 and advanced from Par to now Ace. The First Tee welcomed me with open arms and showed me how much fun the game of golf is. I developed the confidence to play on the Varsity Girls Golf Team in 8th Grade. Last year, I made the TISAC All-Conference Team and received NCISAA All-State. Now, I am a captain as a junior and have recently received TISAC Conference Player of the Year and NCISAA All-State again. Because of such a strong love for the game, I hope to play golf as I take on another stage of my life in college.

Clayson GoodClayson Good

13 years old

8th Grade, Githens Middle School

BIO: Clayson is a straight-A student and a member of the National Junior Honor Society at Githens Middle School in Durham, North Carolina. He enjoys many sports such as lacrosse, tennis, ultimate frisbee, basketball, and long-distance biking. His favorite sport though is golf. Clayson started playing golf at the age of two with a plastic set of clubs. He got his first set of real clubs a few years later and his love of golf grew. He started playing tournaments right away with the U.S. Kids organization and continues playing tournaments with multiple golf tours throughout North Carolina. He currently is an Ace level participant of The First Tee of the Triangle. He had his first junior coaching experience with The First Tee of the Triangle this fall assisting with the Little Linksters class. Clayson has also volunteered for the The First Tee of the Traingle at the SAS Championship, the Rex Hospital Open and A Night FORE Champions, which is the main fundraiser for the year. He uses the nine core values on and off the course and appreciates all that he has learned through The First Tee.


The First Tee of Roanoke Valley

Grace HuffmanGrace Huffman

15 years old

Sophomore, Rockbridge County High

BIO: She has been playing golf since she was six years old, and has been a participant in the First Tee since she was 11.  A two-year starter on the RCHS golf team, Grace participated in the Virginia State Girls High School Golf Championship as a freshman and was named to the All-District and All-Conference Teams during her sophomore year.  In 2015 she qualified for the Regional Drive, Chip and Putt competition at the Congressional Country Club.  Grace has had top finishes in tournaments in the Roanoke Valley Junior Golf Association, the Virginia State Golf Association, the College Prep Tour, and the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls Tour.  In addition to golf, Grace is active in various clubs in school such as Interact and Young Life, and plays on the RCHS girl’s lacrosse team.  In her spare time Grace enjoys spending time with her friends, two dogs and a cat, and playing golf against her older brother, Cole.

Katherine BowlesKathryn Bowles

17 years old

Senior, Rockbridge County High School

BIO: She has played on the high school varsity co-ed golf team since her freshman year, received the Coach’s Award in 2014, and was a co-captain of the team this past season.  She joined The First Tee in 2008 and is currently working on completing her Eagle Level Certification. She represented The First Tee of Roanoke Valley in the First Tee Scramble at the Greenbrier Classic this past summer.  Being able to travel to Naples to be a participant in the First Tee Champions Challenge is a great honor for her.  Katherine said, “The First Tee has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had and helped me realize how much I love the game of golf.”  She is extremely proud to be a part of the program as well as represent The First Tee of Roanoke Valley in Naples.


The First Tee of Atlanta

NButlerNajae Butler

16 years old

Junior, Westlake High School

BIO: My name is Najae Butler and I began playing golf at the age of 7.  It wasn’t until I was 12 when I began playing competitively with Atlanta Junior golf and 15 with The Hurricane Junior Tour. This past summer is when I officially had my first win in major tournaments with Atlanta junior. And once I won the first one, I won the rest of my 5 tournaments and placing 10th in the Grand Championship. Those wins led me to an invitational tournament at Peachtree golf Club where I shot my lowest round of 73. But that only prepared me for the best experience of a lifetime; The Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach! My confidence in my ability to play golf was higher than usual helping me realize what I truly want to do with my career. I want to play collegiate golf while majoring in Communications and minoring in journalism to prepare me for sports commentating. I love to be around sports, talk about sports and best of all play sports. So I would like to be a sports commentator after college, but that decision came about with this “game” called Golf.

DAyalaDario Ayala

17 years old

Senior, Alpharetta High School

BIO: Dario is an Ace level participant with The First Tee of Atlanta, where he has been a member since 2010. Dario has had an extensive experience participating in various The First Tee events. He was attended the 2015 Outstanding Participant Summit, where he honed his training to be a leader in his community. Dario has also been able to attend the 2013 Sage Valley Classic as well as the 2014 PLAYer’s Academy. Last year, he was selected to play in the inaugural Par 3 Challenge, and after 2 rounds, walked away the boys winner of the tournament! Dario capped off a great 2015 by being accepted to The Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach! He currently weighing his options to play collegiate golf.



Round 1 – Friday, February 12

Round 2 – Saturday, February 13

Final Round – Sunday, February 14

NCH Healthcare Systems Partner for Healthy Heart Day

Hall of Famer Larry Nelson, rookie Billy Andrade added to field

NAPLES, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2014) – February is American Heart Health Month and today ACE 13 NCH Finalofficials from NCH Healthcare Systems and The ACE Group Classic announced NCH Healthy Heart Day will take place on Friday, Feb. 14 during the opening round of the Champions Tour event being held at The TwinEagles Club Feb. 11-16.  Spectators are encouraged to wear red to support heart health awareness and for every spectator that enters the tournament wearing red, a portion of proceeds will be donated to NCH Healthcare Systems.

“Through the commitment of NCH Healthcare Systems we’re able to support a great cause that directly impacts our community. We encourage all of our fans to help raise awareness for heart health by wearing red on Friday,” said Tournament Director Gail Graham. “The culmination of everyone’s efforts will be a special presentation on Saturday where NCH Healthcare Systems will receive a donation from the tournament.”

Blood pressure checks and coupons offering $149 cardiac imaging (regularly over $1,000 in value) will be distributed to spectators courtesy of NCH Healthcare Systems. Fans will also be able to enter a drawing at the tournament for the chance to win one free cardiac imaging.

The latest additions to the tournament field include World Golf Hall of Fame member Larry Nelson and Champions Tour rookie Billy Andrade. Andrade will be making his debut at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, while Nelson will mark his twelfth appearance at The ACE Group Classic when he returns to Naples next month.

Ultimate Golf Experience Books are now on sale for $99. With the purchase of an Ultimate Golf Experience Book, fans will receive discounted golf rounds at over 25 of the best golf courses in Southwest Florida, a Weekly Grounds Ticket to The ACE Group Classic, complimentary parking all week, two concessions vouchers valid any day and a 10 percent discount in the TwinEagles Pro-Shop.

Upgraded ticket options, including The Talon Club 18th Green Hospitality Suite which includes beer, wine and a catered buffet are available for $100. Tickets are available online at www.acegroupclassic.com, by phone at (239) 593-3900, or in the Naples PGA TOUR Superstore. Children 17 and under are admitted free all week with a ticketed adult.

SHARE: See The ACE Group Classic Red Out in honor of NCH Healthy Heart Day by using hashtag #NCHHealthyHeart on Instagram/Twitter @ACEGroupClassic!

Bernhard Langer Wins The ACE Group Classic

Naples, FL
– Bernhard Langer (64-66-66=196) posted a tournament-record 20-under-par 196 to capture his first victory of the season at The ACE Group Classic. Langer had eight birdies and finished with a final round six-under-par 66 to outlast Fred Funk by four strokes.

“It’s always exciting winning,” said Langer. “Winning is what we’re out here for, what I practice for.”

Langer spent the early part of the week in Naples with extra work on the practice range. He was one of the last players to leave the range on Wednesday and Thursday. That practice paid off as Langer enjoyed a share of the lead over the course of all three days. His first round 8-under-par 64 is the lowest opening round by a champion in tournament history. All together, he carded 23 birdies and an eagle during the tournament.

Langer, who lives in Boca Raton, FL, enjoyed the tremendous crowd support, including a surprise appearance from three of kids at the first tee on Sunday. The Southwest Florida community came out in full force all week, with some of the best crowds in tournament history.

“It’s wonderful to see that many people, even on Friday,” said Langer. “We were surprised how many people showed up and it’s great to see that kind of support from the community and obviously a lot of money goes to the charities, to local charities, so it will benefit them and it’s great for us to have that kind of support out there. It’s more fun playing in front of a large crowd than a small crowd.”

Funk (16-under) and first round co-leader Russ Cochran (15-under) each made a run at Langer during Sunday’s final round. However, the four-stroke lead Langer held heading into Sunday was too much to overcome.

Funk (68-66-66=200) closed the gap to two strokes after a Langer bogey on hole 11, but Funk was not able to capitalize on several opportunities and made pars on the final seven holes. “I put myself in position where I needed to… except for I didn’t finish them off,” said Funk. “It was fun to get in the hunt.”

Cochran and Nick Price finished T3 at 15-under. Mark Calcavecchia, playing in the final pairing with Langer and Cochran, finished fifth at 14-under.

Administaff Driving Range

Don’t miss the Administaff Driving Range at The ACE Group Classic this year! World Golf Hall of Fame members and the Legends of Golf can be seen working on their game and warming up for their championship rounds.

The Word’s Gotten Out

Champions Tour Player of the Year and 2010 Charles Schwab Cup winner Bernhard Langer sat down with members of the media today to discuss the current state of the Champions Tour.

“The word’s gotten out that this is a great Tour to come out to and the 40-year olds are trying to stay in shape and work out and keep sharp,” said Langer. “They don’t stop playing when they’re 45 or whatever.  Even if they lose their card, they keep grinding away at it because they know there’s another opportunity knocking on the door when they turn 50.  So as you say, there’s always new guys coming out here, and the guys that are out here are not ready to leave.  They’re great champions, they’re legends, many of them.  That’s why they’re here.  You know, you only have 78 players every week.  That means you get the best of the best, the best of the whole crop, and so it gets very competitive out here because very few players, whatever, you can’t say who don’t belong.”

To view the entire interview > click here

Naples Is a Very Special Place

World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player sat down with members of the media today to discuss his win at this first ever ACE Group Classic and his 23 years of playing in the 24-year old event.

“I think everybody really enjoys coming to Naples,” said Player.  “It’s a very special place, and the tournament is not like a lot of other tournaments that have not continued; this has continued…  Naples has kept it going, to their credit, and obviously it’s a very, very good tournament to have.  The golf course is in magnificent condition… they’ve always been extremely enthusiastic.”

To view the entire interview > click here

The First Tee of Naples/Collier Repeats

Two-time ACE Group Classic champion Loren Roberts and Philadelphia native Jay Sigel teamed up with members from The First Tee of Naples/Collier and The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia in a three-hole competition today at this year’s third-annual First Tee Challenge today.

Stephanie Carlozzi and Matt Taylor from The First Tee of Naples/Collier partnered with Loren Roberts to capture the 2011 trophy by one-stroke over Maddie Gilmartin and Louis Kelly from The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia and Pennsylvania resident Jay Sigel.

The trophy will be presented to The First Tee of Naples/Collier this evening during the 2011 Official Pairings Party.

To view photos from the event > click here

Tuesday Update From Joe


Tuesday, Feb. 15 – 8:50 a.m.

Local Joe Klimas has volunteered with The ACE Group Classic for 24 consecutive years as the first tee starter. This year, he is giving us a glimpse of some of those memories and keeping us updated on happenings from the course. Check back each day for a Morning Cup of Joe.

Free spectator golf at The Quarry on Tuesday.  Come on out and enjoy the festivities and practice rounds at no charge.
There is a traffic advisory for those traveling from the east coast to Naples, as the caravan of Champions Tour players continue to cross Alligator Alley to get ready for the 24th Ace Group Classic at the Quarry.  Yesterday in the area there were cheers and groans, as two qualifying events were conducted.  A field of 52 teed it up at Old Corkscrew in Estero, hoping to pick up one of the three remaining spots..Jim Rutledge was already in as a result of his top 10 finish  at the Allianz Championship last week.  Cheersfor the three who made it into the field for this weekend.  Fred Holton and Willie Wood fired 69’s, while Roger Chapman needed to go five extra holes to qualify.

Can anybody find “Freddie”?  We all know that defending champion Fred Couples, will stay in California to compete on the regular tour event at Riviera.  However, there’ll be another Fred that decided to forgo that long trek and will compete in the Ace Group Classic.  Many may not know that Fred Funk was the golf coach at the University of Maryland for several years.

In the Naples Daily News Amateur Shootout, four flight winners earned the right to play in Wednesday’s Pro-Am alongside Curtis Strange.

The field is now set for the First Tee Challenge which tees off at 1 P.M. this afternoon.  Representing the First Tee of Naples/Collier will be Stephanie Carlozzi and Matt Taylor. Playing along side Pennsylvania resident Jay Sigel for the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia will be Maddie Gilmartin and Louis Kelly in the three hole event starting on 16.  This is the third year for this popular event, and the first time to be a three hole contest.  Remember, admission to The Quarry today is free, so come on out and support these fine youngsters.

Speaking of working with promising youngsters, John Carroll, who was the host pro for several of the initial Classics at the Club  at Pelican Bay, is retired, but keeping his involvement in the game, as he is the Boys Golf Coach at Barron Collier High School here in Naples.

Can you name the grass that makes the tees, fairways and greens look so good.  It’s called SeaDwarf. From the  Seashore Paspalum family.  By using this one type of grass on the entire course, the grounds superintendent  can maintain all surfaces the same way.  Same fertilizer, same watering, and no encroachment from other varities of grass.  This grass was grown in Avon Park, Florida, and can be planted as sprigs, or solons and sod.  Notice the splendid green color of the course.

While the inaugural winner of this event, and a two-time champion Gary Player will compete this year, Lee Trevino will be absent, as he says he will only play one Champions Tour event this season.  Keep your eyes on Gary Player’s tee time, as he is very entertaining on the first tee.

Be sure to come out to The Quarry today, as it’s free and promises to be lot’s of fun.  Talk with you again tomorrow.  Joe Klimas