"I think it's a game you can play all your life," said Cheshire resident Lindsay Cunningham, a senior at Westover School in Middlebury.
"I love it."
has watched many tournaments since being introduced to golf in fifth grade.
had no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes until last fall.
An all-expenses-paid trip to Orlando, Fla. opened her
eyes to many aspects of the game that don't even require taking a swing.
was among 50 student golfers nationwide selected to attend the First Tee Leader's
Forum, held Nov. 12-15 at the Disney Institute
It felt so good to go to Florida and learn everything about golf," recalled Cunningham
"There were only 12 girls that got accepted.
There was one other boy from Connecticut, so we had the chance to represent the state."
golf career started out in First Tee
Founded by The World Golf Foundation
in 1997, the organization strives to expose the positive aspects of golf to young people.
They have overseen the construction of golf facilities and garnered volunteers to teach the game.
"I started taking lessons and then, by eighth grade, I began teaching kids how to play golf," explained Cunningham
, who belongs to the Waterbury Chapter
"I want to continue playing golf, but I'm also interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff."
has been in our program for years.
It's more than just being a good golfer.
has also progressed onto the First Tee golf team.
learned of the Leader's
Forum when Baxter spoke about scholarship opportunities last year.
I'd like to see women's golf become as popular as men," Cunningham
"They talked about how they get the tournaments out to people," described Cunningham
, of marketing.
"I love clothes and golf, so it would be good to combine that."
Leadership conferences focused on learning to work with others.
bonded with her
roommate from Minnesota.
has a whole leadership program, so we got to build on those skills," said Cunningham
"I took a lot of insight and it helped prepare me for college.
I'm going to be somewhere where I'm not comfortable to start, but can become a leader."
The highlight of the trip was being able to apply what they learned at a PGA Tournament.
has previously volunteered at tournaments, but nothing on the same scale as the Children's Miracle Network Classic
"We learned about what the tournament means to the hospital," explained Cunningham
"It was eye-opening.
I had no idea how much tournaments raise for good causes.
I could see fundraising as a career."
Students were put to work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Disney's
spent most of her
time in the press room, but she
was blown away by the scope of the tournament.
"You are doing something different all day.
Seeing the Golf Channel production was incredible.
You don't get the behind the scenes stuff from watching TV," recalled Cunningham
, who saw professional golfers like Justin Leonard (runner-up) and Stephen Ames (winner).
Cunningham spent three years at Cheshire High School, where she was a varsity player and captained the Lady Rams in 2008.
made new friends upon transferring to Westover last year and will captain the golf program this spring.
We went to New England (Championships) last year," said Cunningham
Cunningham plans to continue her volunteerism with First Tee after graduation.
"I hope there is a chapter near where I go to college," Cunningham