Ace participant, Wes Helmer, was selected for three First Tee National opportunities. He speaks about his experience at the First Tee National Championship at Notre Dame and the PGA Superstore Leadership Summit in Montana.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Wes Helmer. I’m a First Tee – Greater San Antonio Ace participant that loves volunteering and working at the First Tee. I’ve been in the First Tee for a little over 8 years now. I got started with one of the summer camps when I was 9. I kept golf as a secondary sport to soccer until I was around 12 and that’s when I went to golf full time. I applied to three events (First Tee National Championship, PGA Superstore Leadership Summit, and the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach) and got accepted into all three.
What was the National Championship like?
It was golf-oriented, and I got to meet a lot of people from around the country and other First Tee chapters with the practice rounds and dinners and the actual rounds. There were around 120 applicants with 24 boys and 24 girls selected.
What did it take to get selected?
They looked at a lot of volunteering outside of golf. A lot of people who apply are good golfers but it’s about what you do off the course; Focusing on volunteer hours and what you do around your community.
What was your favorite part of the National Championship?
My favorite part was definitely the setting being Notre Dame. It was a beautiful campus, and there were a lot of historical things to see; Playing the Warren Golf Course was just a bonus.
What did you learn most from the championship?
I learned about staying in the moment because I had a 10 on the first day and a 9 on the second, so learning from my mistakes and figuring out how to regroup.
After playing in the championship, what was your key takeaway?
After the championship, I really focused on my wedges. Compared to everyone else, I needed to work on them. I also encourage anyone to apply to these national opportunities because they are special.
What was the Leadership Summit like?
The Summit is a camp where a lot of great and highly thought of mentors come together. They instill how they have gotten to where they are and use their leadership skills to instill them to the kids there. It was a lot of journaling and reflecting on the team activities that we did and how those activities and reflecting connect to the real world.
What did you expect?
I expected there were going to be a lot of fun activities, but I did not expect there to be so many team-oriented activities there were and how they would apply to my everyday life.
What was the most valuable thing you learned?
The most valuable thing I learned was through listening to Michael Vick that success comes at different times for people, and it takes hard work and dedication to get there. When you make a mistake, you find a way to improve that and not let it affect you.
Going forward what will you do differently?
I had written when we journaled that I was going to be more involved in my local chapter and try to find a way to possibly work at the PGA Superstore and give back in my free time.
What would you say to someone starting in the First Tee program?
Don’t worry about your golf game as far as results but focus on using those 9 core values in your everyday life because your golf game will eventually come together.
What is the most meaningful core value to you?
My most meaningful core value would be perseverance because I haven’t found success immediately in my life but focusing on being a good person on and off the golf course has helped develop that success even when I had failures.
What are you looking forward most to at the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach?
Once again I am looking forward to meeting more people from different chapters of the First Tee and taking in the full experience of Pebble Beach and Spyglass.