Living and Playing with INTEGRITY by Coach Jeff Lebedda

Categories: Blog

When I was a volunteer and had another job, I used to play golf all the time. Now that I work in the golf industry, I hardly get to play at all – something they failed to mention at my job interview with First Tee. So given my ability and lack of playing time, low scores are hard to come by. 

That brings me to a casual round this summer with one of my favorite students and her dad – one of my favorite volunteers. I couldn’t have played better that day. A 38 on the front nine had me thinking I could possibly break 80 for the first time – something, for most 14 handicaps, is realistically out of the question. But seriously, that day I couldn’t miss. Especially on the back 9. I couldn’t miss the divots in the middle of the fairway. On two separate occasions I found myself less than 100 yards away from the green, sitting in the middle of a deep divot in the fairway. What to do? Rolling the ball out of the divot and on to the fairway would have provided an opportunity to get the ball on the green in two, two putt at worst and make a par. So, in the end, it comes down to one of First Tee’s most important core values – integrity.

Integrity is a choice. Do you do the right thing, even if no one is watching and no one will ever know but you? Personal integrity is what separates golf from other sports. In golf, you are the scorekeeper and the referee. In no other sport do you call a penalty on yourself. In other sports, we expect the referees and scorekeepers to be completely honest – to have integrity. Shouldn’t we, as golfers, act the same?  When teaching the lesson on integrity with my students, I always ask one question: “Do you think it is easier to act with integrity as you get older?” That answer is obvious. And the kids always come up with the right answer.

Truth be told, I played both balls that landed in the divots right where they were – in the middle of the divots. Score wise – it did not turn out well. Both shots from the divots went sideways and led to bogeys. Final score was an 81 – lowest score of my life and one that I can say was honestly achieved. I’m still chasing 79.

If you would like your kids to learn to live with integrity, on and off the golf course, please join us for clinics during the year.  Please CLICK HERE to go to our Schedules page.

Submitted by Coach Jeff Lebedda, Southern Regional Manager

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