By Lainey Berkus
Let me introduce you to a driving force on and off the golf course.
Meet Carrie Kimbell, the remarkable Chief Executive Officer of First Tee – Greater San Antonio.
This San Antonio Woman is making a real difference in children’s lives — one swing at a time. How? Carrie explains it this way, “First Tee is NOT where one learns how to be a good golfer. First Tee IS where young people, from all walks of life, ages five to eighteen, learn to be better people”.
Carrie’s stellar leadership is energized by her credentials, passion, and commitment to the game and First Tee. Her passion sparked on the golf course at age five when she started hitting balls at the driving range with her family. In high school, she was the only woman on the men’s golf team. She was a walk-on collegiate player at Purdue University while earning her BS degree in Business Management. Did I mention that she has a six handicap and always plays from the men’s tees? Most importantly, her golf journey taught Carrie the same nine Core Values that make up the First Tee curriculum. These essential life skills are honesty, integrity, responsibility, judgment, sportsmanship, respect, courtesy, perseverance, and confidence.
Off the course, Carrie works tirelessly to create numerous opportunities to impact and empower the lives of young golfers. She exposes the children to various careers, industries, and experiences through the First Tee Fore your Future Speaker series. Professionals talk to the kids about facing challenges, setting goals, and staying healthy on and off the course.
Over 50,000 children have participated in First Tee since 2002. No child is turned away, thanks to funding from generous sponsors. Today, over 1,700 students participate in three seven-week sessions at one of eight locations throughout the City. For more information, www.firstteesanantonio.org.
Before we peek into Carrie’s golf bags, let me share a heartwarming First Tee success story. A nine-year-old young boy in need was enrolled in the program by his grandmother. She thought First Tee would help him face challenges. This lad went to classes but always called his grandmother mid-way through to pick him up. A PGA professional and First Tee Ambassador saw the potential in this boy, called the grandmother, and asked her not to pick up her grandson early — and to leave his phone at home. Reluctantly, the boy returned to class without his iPhone. The Coach nurtured this boy through connection and positivity. Fast forward to this young man today, now eleven years old. He mastered all the skills and won the top Core Value Award for Perseverance at the annual First Tee Game Changer Luncheon in 2002.
Lesson learned — hand a child a golf club, make a genuine connection with a Coach and swing — then watch the magic unfold.
How does one pick the right golf bag?
There are all kinds of golf bags — stand bags, cart bags, staff bags, Sunday bags, fashion bags, etc. These bags come in different weights, materials, and colors too.
Look for comfortable straps, a moderate weight, and pockets and dividers of varying sizes to hold your gear. Each bag addresses different needs, so it is important to understand where you are in your golf journey. One bag does not fit all players.
Tell me about your bag!
My black and white customized canvas Team Bag is durable and stylish. PURDUE is printed in all caps with gold color lettering on the face of the bag. My name is also printed in smaller lowercase letters at the base of the bag. The bag is designed to be lightweight, creating an effortless carry, featuring interchangeable single and double padded straps to match my style of play. The pocket sizes vary, and one is insulated for a beverage, which is where I keep my customized First Tee Yeti. It’s water resistant, too. I also have a three-pocket Sunday Kelly green carry bag with white piping by Jones Sports. I use this lightweight bag when I play nine holes with my sons.
What’s in your bag?
The six pockets vary in size and are filled with bag tags from First Tee, Oak Hills, and Pine Valley Golf Club. First Tee branded Callaway golf balls and tees, a First Tee towel, koozies, sunscreen, bug spray, gloves, keys, iPhone, wallet, lip gloss, and hand sanitizer are all tucked away for easy access in the pockets.
There are 14 clubs in the cavity of the bag; each has its own slot and monogrammed head cover from prestigious tournaments around the country. My clubs include a TaylorMade Men’s Sim2 Max 10.5 degree driver with a Fujikura Ventus 65G 5-R graphite shaft, Cleveland Launcher 3-wood with a Mitsubishi Basara graphite shaft, two Callaway Mavrik 3 & 4 Hybrids with Project X Catalyst 65g graphite shaft,
seven TaylorMade Rocketballz Irons with RRBZ 65G graphite shaft 4-PW Titleist BV Titleist Vokey Design SM8 Wedge, 52 Degree, Cleveland, GC 14-56 Degree Sand Wedge and Callaway Odyssey Black Series 1 Putter.
My Sunday carry bag holds golf balls, tees, iPhone, lip gloss, and sunscreen. Fewer clubs in this bag would be a driver, a hybrid, 3-4 irons, depending on the course I am playing, a wedge, and a putter.
I put my clubs in each compartment by size, starting with the putter, followed by the wedges, irons, and woods. As in life, it’s always important to show up to the round prepared with enough golf balls and teens, clean clubs, and arrive 45 minutes before your tee time to warm up.