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Feb 27, 2024

Leading With Gratitude

Barry Kaufman

Photography By

Special to CH2/CB2 Magazine
First Tee – The Lowcountry to honor outstanding community members

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Those whose children have gone through First Tee – The Lowcountry programs know that there’s more to the organization than just the game of golf. Children and teens who get to learn from their volunteers and coaches improve their golf game, certainly. But that’s just part of what sets this remarkable group apart. The true gift they bestow on their students is the life lessons, mentoring them toward a brighter future even as they develop their swing. 

Running as a through-line across these lessons are nine core values that define First Tee. And at their annual Community Leadership Awards Banquet, the organization uses these values to demonstrate the wonderful people who call the Lowcountry home. 

“Honoring the community is important to us because the community supports us,” said Executive Director Pat Zuk. “This year is a little different. As it’s our 10-year anniversary, we’re honoring people who had a significant impact on the development of our chapter.”

Being recognized for Perseverance is local fixture Kim Likins. “Kim is one of the original people who helped start the chapter,” Zuk said. “Everything she did for us – going through government approvals, getting our 501(c)(3), dealing with the paperwork to build our Gumtree Road facility … it took a great deal of perseverance on her part.”

Earning kudos for Confidence is Paul Caruso, the first program director for the local chapter. “Paul has been a tremendous influence on the chapter, especially when it comes to developing solid programming,” Zuk said. “He’s been a true leader.”

Volunteer of the Year Herb Wehner will be recognized for Honesty during the banquet, while also earning the Mike Davis Award. “He’s been in charge of our First Tee Community Program at Red Cedar Elementary for as long as I’ve been here. He’s really taken ownership of it,” Zuk said. 

Golf course designer Clyde Johnston served six years on the board at First Tee – The Lowcountry, two as chair. As a designer, he created the beautiful course at the First Tee. As a volunteer, he’ll be recognized for Responsibility. “This is a guy who really took responsibility for the chapter and did an awful lot for us,” Zuk said.

The core value of Judgment will serve as the honor for Beaufort County School District Superintendent Dr. Frank Rodriguez, who has played a vital role in placing First Tee programs in 24 schools around the district. “The District has just been a great partner in getting kids out there on the course – they believe in us, and that’s using good judgment,” Zuk said.

While the Devlin Foundation has offered financial support to First Tee for years, it’s the extra care that founder Bruce Devlin has shown students that earned Courtesy honors. “He finished the design at Secession Golf Club. They always invite a group of four or five kids to their amateur tournament and just treat the students like kings,” Zuk said. “It’s a great experience for them.”

The awards for Integrity and Respect will be split between two of the Lowcountry’s most celebrated golf communities, Colleton River Club and Long Cove Club, respectively. “They have both supported us, and they have both been instrumental in getting this facility up and going,” Zuk said. “Every year, we have more and more volunteers from both communities. They’ve both been such strong supporters over the last 10 years.”

In addition to these honors, two more awards will be bestowed on locals during the banquet. The Legacy Award, honoring those who have made a significant impact on the chapter, will go to Ken and Joan Campbell who took responsibility for fundraising during the early stages of the facility’s creation. “They did everything, the whole nine yards,” Zuk said. “From a personal standpoint, Ken is someone I always look to for advice. He not only founded this chapter, but also The First Tee of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.”

The final awards, the Paul Caruso Award and Sportsmanship Participant of the Year, will both go to a young man Zuk describes as “12 going on 25.” Paul Morrell is “very mature, and he’s always helping coach the younger kids,” Zuk said. “He’s just one of those kids you’re glad you know.”

The Community Leadership Awards Banquet will be held April 16 at Sea Pines Country Club. For tickets and more information, visit or call (843)686-2680.  

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