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Seventh Annual First Tee Invitational May Be Most Important

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Weeks after its funding from the City of Charlottesville was drastically cut, the local First Tee program held its annual fundraiser. More than seventy golfers hit the links at the Farmington Country Club on Monday for the 7th annual First Tee Invitational.

"The main thing about this is just to see the people of the community come together," said Wayne Hall, the chairman of the Advisory Board for the First Tee of Charlottesville.

The tournament raises about twenty thousand dollars each year for the organization, which helps teach children about the sport of golf along with other life skills.

"The most is probably sportsmanship and perseverance," said First Tee participant Sarah Gemeny, who was on hand to help at the event Monday. "The sportsmanship is because you can't really, nobody really wants to play with you if you're not a good sport. And perseverance is you don't give up no matter what happens."

Another first tee participant, Guy Berry, said sportsmanship, perseverance, and responsibility are three of the most important core values he's learned through the program.

"When you're having a bad day you can't really show it too much or take it out on other players, just kind of hold it in," he said. "Responsibility, you've got to keep up with your own clubs, where your ball is. Perseverance, when you're having a bad day, just keep going and think that you can get it back to the top."

The money raised at this years event will be crucial, because the city council recently stopped funding the program. The group is currently working on a deal with a new sponsor in order to keep the First Tee going beyond 2013. Hall says he is "99-percent" sure that will happen.

"The real mission is to impact those children, and you can impact them in so many different ways," Hall says. "Whether you teach one to respect people, or you teach another one how to balance a checkbook, that they don't get in other venues or other educational opportunities."

"I think I've really learned like mostly my core values, and everything like that," said First Tee participant Mariah Snoddy. "I've learned more about the game of golf."

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