First Tee honors longtime coach at THE PLAYERS


Coaches can play a huge role in not only teaching the sport or subject they are instructing, but it is the special ones who realize they can make a difference beyond the basic material in front of them.

That is one of the best definitions when describing coach Robert Young and the work he has done with First Tee of North Florida during his past two decades as a coach within the program.

As a result of his impactful teaching over the years, Young was honored and presented with a plaque thanking him for his dedication during a ceremony at the Morgan Stanley fan experience tent at THE PLAYERS on March 12.

Not only was Young given the award, but he was surprised by several of his current and former students who were on hand to congratulate him personally and catch up.

“It’s exciting to see some of these kids be here to take part in this, that’s the best surprise of them all,” Young said.

PGA Tour golfers Justin Rose and Alex Smalley were on hand to say a few words to coach Young and to the First Tee students in attendance.

“In the program you get training not only in golf, but also in life skills and talking about how to handle when you’re faced with tough times,” Young said. “That is just going to be life, so you’ve just got to know how to preserve. We focus on the assets that are going to make you a great person and not just necessarily a great golfer.”

“When I was younger, I was doing a lot of different activities, and if I hadn’t done that, who knows, I may not be here where I’m at today,” Smalley said. “I think it’s big just getting exposed to a lot of different things, and I know I would have loved coming to tournaments like this and meeting players when I was that age.”

Young got started as a coach with First Tee in 2004 after he was teaching golf in a park near Brentwood Golf Course in Jacksonville and was approached by a man who told him about First Tee and the initiatives they had.

So, he wound up becoming a coach and he continues to carry on the love of the game and values that have been the focal point since those first grassroots beginnings.

Being an athlete himself, Young knows what it takes to play sports and how the right mindset can mean everything, just like in life.

“I played football, which was my sport, and I had to get my mind and body both in shape so that I was able to take on the challenge,” Young said. “They can carry that right mindset into life and with whatever they choose to do.”

Having rarely waned from his mission to help and give back the best way he knows how, and that is by teaching continues to be the driving force for Young and he plans to keep it going as long as there are children out there he can teach.

“You don’t do it for the awards, but it does let me know that I’m doing something right, and it just shows how each day I go out to teach classes is so enjoyable for me,” Young said. “Just looking to continue to serve as an inspiration through golf.”