by Travis Hill
ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida (Jan. 24, 2010) -- I spent an hour talking golf with two golf professionals on Friday afternoon. And Tiger Woods was never mentioned. Not even in a winking, unspoken joke. Not once.
Tiger's shenanigans have put something of a pall over the start of the 2010 golf season. It's like we found out about Santa Claus. Sure, Christmas still comes, but it's just not the same.
But I may have stumbled on the cure: Go spend some time at The First Tee of St. Johns County.
After talking golf and life with Executive Director Tom Lawrence and Development Officer Jay Jennison, I left feeling refreshed. I turned up the music in my car. I remembered why I like this stupid game so much in the first place.
This is a bizarre concept, but The First Tee is a place where golf is fun. Not only that, but it serves as a mechanism for teaching life skills to the nearly 700 local kids that The First Tee served in 2009.
"It's the only job I've ever had where I enjoy coming to work every day," Lawrence said.
Lawrence and Jennison have been forced to learn some life skills of their own lately. Last September, Jennison was diagnosed with abdominal cancer. It got serious quickly.
"Honestly, there was a time back there when I didn't think I was going to make it," said Jennison, who is a St. Augustine golf fixture.
He was born here and still has memories of growing up playing the old Ponce de Leon course. He left for awhile but returned in 1996. He has since founded the St. Augustine Amateur, a top-tier tournament that draws players from all over the country.
Late last year, he underwent some radical surgeries. He was forced to step down as Executive Director. Lawrence, who graduated from Flagler College's Sports Management program in 2008, was suddenly thrust into a leadership role. He took over on Jan. 1.
Then another radical thing happened: Jennison's chemotherapy started working. He wasn't moving as fast as he used to, or hitting it as far, but Jennison was still able to come to the course. A lot.
Lawrence says Jennison is at the complex four and five days a week.
-- To read full story from The St. Augustine Record website>