The Next Phase of The First Tee

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Youth development organization rolls out new facility and introduces new executive director Brady Boyd.

Brady Boyd’s story may sound familiar to most of you.

An Ohio native, he fell in love with Hilton Head Island during a visit and decided he wanted to stay, spending his days golfing and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Where Boyd’s story differs from the thousands of other Ohioans who can say the same is that he turned his love of the game into a new chapter in his life, leaving behind a career at Procter & Gamble to pursue his dreams.

“Six months after our honeymoon, we packed up and moved to Hilton Head and I started working at Palmetto Dunes,” he said. “I put the suit and tie away and was working at the bag drop.”

Following stints at Palmetto Dunes and Bear Creek, Boyd received his Class A status from the PGA and spent nine years developing programs at Old South as head pro. A chance encounter with the general manager at TPC Tampa Bay led to him working in Tampa for 12 years, but soon Hilton Head was calling again.

“We have lots of family and friends here, and a good relationship with the church,” he said. “It was one of the few places we would consider leaving Tampa for.”

A few years after returning, Boyd is now stepping into a new phase in his golf career as executive director of The First Tee of the Lowcountry, the local branch of the national youth development league designed to build character and impart lasting life lessons through the game of golf.

“After 25 years in the golf industry, it was a great way for me to give back through an organization that has just about the best mission you can create,” he said. “It’s really refreshing to see these smiling faces, and these kids are getting life lessons and some are touching golf equipment for the first time.”

And just as Boyd is embarking on a new chapter, so is the organization he now leads. The First Tee, which for a long time has partnered with area schools and golf courses to offer its programs around the region, now has a facility of its own.

“A lot of chapters don’t have a physical site,” Boyd said. “We’re very fortunate to have a place where we can conduct our skills classes and other programs.”

Across 13 acres off of Gumtree Road, the First Tee of the Lowcountry’s new facility offers a 350-yard driving range, plus a six-hole short course and a nine-hole disc golf course running around the perimeter.

The unique layout of the course places six fully maintained green settings, plus corresponding tee boxes, within the space of the driving range itself. This brilliant Clyde Johnston-designed layout maximizes the space available, letting it convert from driving range to short course with ease.

The new facility enjoyed a soft opening in the spring, but an official opening was delayed due to Hurricane Matthew. Now, The First Tee is ready to show off its groundbreaking new short course and driving range, perfectly suited to help bring the game of golf to a new generation.

The First Tee

“We still have a little what I call ‘paint, polish and shine’ to do,” Boyd said. “But by April 23, we’ll be ready to showcase it and really give our community a sense of how well the group here has used their donations and grants to get this facility built.”

 For the children of the Lowcountry, it means a safe environment to develop crucial life skills in the context of the game of golf with the help of a core group of dedicated coaches. “These guys are so committed and engaged,” Boyd said. “They don’t just go out there and show somebody how to putt. They’re working in these values and you can just watch and see it working.”

Locals not only benefit by gaining an incredible new facility for their children to grow into capable young men and women, but there is also a long-term goal of opening up The First Tee’s driving range and short course to the public.

But ultimately, The First Tee’s new era, including its new executive director and new facility, will help it flourish, just like the young golfers of the Lowcountry who now have a new place to grow.

Registration open for spring programs, plus attend the grand opening on April 23. Visit www.thefirstteelowcountry.org for details.