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Hero FULL SWING Building character, instilling life-enhancing values and promoting healthy choices through the game of golf, The First Tee Miami-Dade Amateur Golf Association is making positive impacts on the lives of youth with every swing of the club. T E X T BY E S T R E LL I TA S . S I B I L A B y the age of 5, children are ready to pick up their first golf club and learn the valuable lessons offered on the links. The 18 holes are known to require a dash of patience and a great deal of hand-eye coordination, and it’s never too early to start developing these skills. Golf can teach great life lessons, so the younger you learn, the better staged you are for success. The First Tee Miami-Dade Amateur Golf Association [DAGA] is internationally recognized as one of junior golf’s strongest and most innovative supporters. At the helm is Charlie DeLucca, Jr., a legend in the golf game who grew up in South Florida and distinguished himself as an outstanding junior golfer leading his Edison High golf team to the State Championship. After a stint in the Navy, he returned to Miami and became the youngest golf pro in the nation. DeLucca’s golf legacy is unmatched. Known as the “Godfather Of Junior Golf,” he founded not only DAGA but also the Doral Publix Junior Championship, the premier junior golf tournament where over 690 golfers from more than 45 countries participate in the yearly tournament. 74 The South Florida PGA Hall Of Famer touts the impacts The First Tee makes on its youth participants as his greatest success. “Through the organization, kids from every walk of life partake in a game that teaches the values for life,” says DeLucca. “It’s a game that can be played for a lifetime.” Having experienced success as a junior golfer, he knows exactly the type of training young players need to develop a deep love and respect for the game, and how to translate these skills to life’s daily challenges. From birdies to triple bogeys, golf closely parallels real life as players experience the highs and lows of the game. In addition to learning fundamentals of the golf swing, scoring and game lingo, participants enjoy benefits in other areas and report positive results like feeling more confident in their social interactions with peers, improving their meeting and greeting skills and increasing their ability to appreciate diversity. Currently, Junior Clinics are available for participants ages 5-18 at various certification levels including PLAYer, Par, Birdie & Eagle. Each level reinforces The First Tee Code of Conduct and Nine Core Values providing precious skills for a lifetime of swinging success; FirstTeeMiami.org.