MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Experiencing the FedEx St. Jude Championship means more than competing on the course. For two Memphis teenagers and aspiring golfers, it also means a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the event runs.

The teens are part of a program called First Tee, which introduces golf and its values to young people between the ages of four to 18.

Through their participation in First Tee Tennessee in Memphis, 14-year-old Jason Olende and 16-year-old Alexander Albright will have a chance to shadow a sports journalist at this year’s FedEx St. Jude Championship.

First Tee, an international youth development organization, came to Memphis in 1997 to attract more minorities to the game of golf.

Jason Olende and Alexander Albright with First Tee Tennesse. (Photo by Mike Suriani, WREG)

“We try our best to introduce golf through the schools. You have no idea how often I go into a school and ask a child, ‘what’s their first impression of golf?’ and unfortunately they tell me that is for “old white people,” said Justin Weathers, Program Director of First Tee Tennessee in Memphis.

Weathers admits it is a challenge drawing young people to play golf, and changing their perceptions of who plays the game when their eyes may be on other sports.

“Definitely my friends always think, ‘oh, golf, why golf? You’re so tall, why don’t you play basketball?'” said Alexander Albright, First Tee participant.

He says there’s a science to golf he hasn’t seen in other sports.     

“Okay, if I hit a seven iron, how far will it go? Or how far will it go to the left or the right? Is my club face open or closed? Those sorts of things you have take into account when playing golf,” said Albright.

Jason Olende says the game “clicked” with him at a young age and he’s already set his goals.

“I’m trying to improve my score and along with that, becoming the best player I can be so I can get to a collegiate level cause their giving out a lot of scholarships for golf as well,” said Olende.

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Justin Weathers says golf is much more than the smack of a driver, or a ball finding its way into the hole. It is a commitment that can change lives.

“It takes an ability to not give up and get frustrated when things get hard,” said Weathers, “It’s an experience that I will always, I mean always, be happy for.”

There are nearly 250 participants in the First Tee program in Memphis.

If you would like to register your child in First Tee, click here.