SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The First Tee is a national golf organization that has a local chapter here in Sioux Falls and that organization has helped two area golfers earn a trip to California.
Harrisburg’s Reese Jansa won the 2021 Class ‘AA’ Girls State Golf Tournament. Much of that success comes from the experience and skill that she has gained over the past few years.
“I would say in like the last six years, I’ve really started to love the game and just ever since then, the First Tee has helped me, like improve not only my golf game, but also just like how I interact with other people around the community,” Harrisburg senior Reese Jansa said.
“Reese started out and she enjoyed golf, her family is into golf, but kind of the last few years, she took it and got the spark,” First Tee coach Kelli Sinksen said. “She started to put in more time and effort. You’d find her on the range all the time, putting in the chipping and putting, short game and elevating all of her skills.”
O’Gorman’s Liam Sarmiento has focused on the other side of the game… the mental side, as the First Tee program has helped him make better decisions on the course.
“It helped me to control my emotions, because I’ve been a hot head at times. Sometimes when I don’t get my way on the course, I’ve got to just enjoy my emotions,” O’Gorman sophomore Liam Sarmiento said. “Through the First Tee, I’ve been able to do that.”
“He puts in the work too. He’s out here and he plays in a lot of events. He’s put in also the time here and you know, he’s a little bit younger, but he’s got experience and he’s going to do well there as well,” Sinksen said.
Both Jansa and Sarmiento applied to be a part of the Champions’ Tour PURE Insurance Championship Impacting the First Tee event at Pebble Beach… and both of them received an invite.
“It’s a really big help when I shoot those low scores, to help me get a really good golf resume,” Jansa said. “I would say what really helped me was the essays that I wrote for the First Tee Pebble Beach.”
“First of all, I had to write some pretty good essays, with the help of my English teacher and obviously my parents. Then on the side, I had to work on my game, obviously,” Sarmiento said.
The First Tee event partners with the PGA Champions’ Tour, which means Jansa and Sarmiento will get a chance to play with a professional golfer.
“It’s a Champions’ Tour Event so, like you see the guys playing here at the Sanford International in town, the next week actually I believe they go to Pebble Beach for this PURE Insurance Championship. They will actually get paired with a Senior tour player,” Sinksen said.
Getting the opportunity to play at a prestigious course like Pebble Beach, while getting to golf with a professional is something that is too big to even imagine.
“I don’t think it really will until I get there and see what everyone is super hyped about,” Jansa said. “I mean, you can look up all the videos and pictures you want, but I don’t think it will ever do justice.”
“Well, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s going to be very fun for sure, but I was very shocked when I got the news,” Sarmiento said.
The event will feature 81 golfers and begin on September 20.