Where Are They Now? Natalie Groom

We were able to catch up with Morton Golf Foundation 2019 College Scholarship Recepient, Natalie Groom to find out what she’s been up to since we last spoke.

How did the College Scholarship help you personally?

It aided me in the past to be debt free so far in my college years. I am now in my Junior Year at Wayne State University in Detroit, Ml


Please let us know how you are doing.

I am doing well. I have had a great college experience playing on the Women’s Golf Team and my academic path to a marketing career.

How have you used the tools from the game of golf in your everyday life?

Golf has taught me many life lessons that keep me going when life presents obstacles.

Are you or have you played golf on a college team? For which college team? If not, are you continuing to play the game recreationally?

This is my 3rd year playing for Wayne State University. I have opportunities to play across the country by being with the team

Are you giving back to your community or looking forward to using your skills for making a difference with others in your future?

My college golf team volunteers in Michigan at the Humane Society. We have a wonderful team camaraderie.

Thank you so much Natalie . We look forward to your continued success.


Where Are They Now? – Ari Samuel

How did the Youth Development Grant help your junior golf development?

The Youth Development Grant helped me to be able to play in more events and grow within the game. I would not have been able to get better and obtain the experience that I did without this grant because my family and I simply could not afford to play in a bunch of tournaments.

How did the College Scholarship help you personally?

The scholarship tremendously helped me get started in school. Receiving various partial scholarships all added up and allowed me to purchase books and cover some of my outstanding fees such as a meal plan.

Please let us know how you are doing.

I am doing great! My team and I won our conference championship last season and I graduate in one semester! I just received honors by making the Dean’s list last semester and after I graduate I plan to attend graduate school.

How have you used the tools from the game of golf in your everyday life?

I have used the tools I have gained from golf in my everyday life because these qualities shaped me into who I am today. The perseverance, patience, and determination I gained from playing golf for all these years have helped me in and out of the classroom by being able to complete deadlines and I will continue to use my leadership and communication skills once I enter the work field.

Are you or have you played golf on a college team? For which college team? If not, are you continuing to play the game recreationally? Please share any special college golf or college experiences with us.

I currently play on the University of West Georgia Women’s golf team and the most special event that took place was definitely receiving our championship ring! We won the championship by one stroke and we were recognized as a team at one of our home football games.

Are you giving back to your community or looking forward to using your skills for making a difference with others in your future?

I definitely am giving back to my community and I plan to continue doing so. I am continuously teaching minority youth about the importance of this game and being living proof of how far the game could take you. I volunteer my time over the summers when I come home to different organizations such as One Swing Golf Academy and Black Child Legacy which both focus on teaching minority youth the basics of the game and providing them with the opportunity to play.

Thank you Ari, for letting us know what you’ve been up to. Congratulations on your Championship!


Where Are They Now? – Katie Harris

We recently spoke with Kattie Harris, one of the Morton Golf Foundation’s Youth Development Grant recipients, about what she’s been up to since we last saw her.

How did the Youth Development Grant help your junior golf development?

The grant gave me a lot of opportunities to decide what I wanted to do after High School

Please let us know how you are doing.

I am now in my Junior year at Portland State on a golf scholarship. Due to COVID I will stay in school for the 5th year and work on my Masters and continue to play on the golf team. I am aiming at a double major in Economics & Political Science with a Minor in Business.

How have you used the tools from the game of golf in your everyday life?

Golf gave me confidence. I would not be the person I am today without golf in my life.

Are you or have you played golf on a college team? For which college team?

Yes. I play on the Women’s Golf Team at Portland State

Are you giving back to your community or looking forward to using your skills for making a difference with others in your future?

In Portland, OR I am teaching junior golf at a local club. I automatically teach First Tee’s 9 core values without thinking because that is how I live my life.

Thank you so much Katie for letting us know what you’ve been up to. We look forward to your continued success.


Where Are They Now? – Thomas Coppola

We are starting a new column here with our Morton Golf Foundation scholarship recipients. First up is Thomas Coppola. Let’s take a look at what he’s been up to:

How did the College Scholarship help you personally?

It helped me afford my textbooks for my first year of college.

Please let us know how you are doing.

I ended up graduating from the University of Idaho with a B.S in business and my full class A PGA status. I am now working in Roseville At GOLFTEC as a personal instructor

How have you used the tools from the game of golf in your everyday life?

Golf is a game of patience and using patience is key in the workforce for dealing with students and other guests.


Are you or have you played golf on a college team? For which college team? If not, are you continuing to play the game recreationally? Please share any special college golf or college experiences with us.

I continue to play golf on most days off. It’s a game that I enjoy playing for fun or competitively with most friends.

Are you giving back to your community or looking forward to using your skills for making a difference with others in your future?

I feel like I’m giving back as being a mentor to some of my younger students who are in high school playing, or getting ready to play, on their golf teams.

Thank you so much Thomas! We look forward to following your career wherever it may take you.


Third Annual Capital Cup Challenge Supporting Morton Golf Foundation Life & Skills Academy was a Success

The 3rd Annual Capital Cup Challenge was held at William Land Golf Course under perfect conditions.  The event was kicked-off on Wednesday, December 1st with a practice round to get everyone geared up for the competition the following day. 

The sun was shining bright, the wind was low and the golf course was in perfect playing condition.

There were 8 City Elected Officials wearing blue shirts playing a 2-person scramble golf match against the 8 County Elected Officials wearing red shirts.

CITY TEAM (Blue Shirts):                                COUNTY TEAM (Red Shirts):

Rick Jennings                                                   Donald Terry

Katie Valenzvela                                             Garrett Gatewood

Darrell Steinberg                                            Patrick Kennedy

Kevin McCarty                                                Rick Launey

Lauren Hammond                                           Brian Cooley

Steve Cohn                                                      Nancy Bui Thompson

Rob Fong                                                         Mike Kozlowski

Jay Schenirer                                                   Stephanie Nguyen

When the 9-hole match finished the County -vs- City was tied 2 – 2 .  It was time for a putt off match on the putting green.

The 2 County Elected Officials winning the final putt for the County team were Nancy Bui Thompson and Brian Cooley.

A new 2021 plaque will be added to the perpetual trophy that will now move to the County’s territory.  For the past 2 years, this tournament was won by the City teams until now.

The dollars raised for the past 3 years go toward the construction and sustaining the Morton Golf Foundation Life & Golf Skills Academy at Hiram Johnson High School.  The Community Services Project funds raised will be used for the construction project installing Phase 1 of the Stadium concept which will benefit all students & the community in the Hiram Johnson neighborhood.  The Hiram Johnson community will have the opportunity to participate not only in the after school golf programs but also throughout the summer months.

Our hope is to have construction in 2022 and by this event next year we’ll kick it off with hoping that everyone participating has had the opportunity to tour the new Life & Golf Skills Academy at Hiram Johnson High School.


Junior Golf Marathon “100 Holes of Golf” Held at Bing Maloney on Saturday, November 6

Bing Maloney Golf Course hosted the Morton Golf Foundation’s “100 Holes of Golf on Saturday, November 6.

From the moment we drove in the entrance of Bing Maloney Golf Course & saw the “Welcome Junior Golf Marathon” on the marquee we knew it was going to be a great day.

30 juniors, families & friends gathered to play “100 Holes of Golf” on the E9 as a fundraiser to support the 2022 Junior Golf Development Grant program.

The juniors themselves go out to gather donations as many of them also receive funds & benefits from this program. This is a very rewarding way for these juniors to help pay it forward.

This was a day the juniors could just play the game, laugh with friends & not turn in a golf score.

Every player today was a Winner.

Not only in the prizes & fun on the course but off the course as they represent Morton Golf Foundation & the core values we all live by.

The event ended with new friendships made over lunch in the Maloney Grille as everyone looks forward to next year’s “100 Holes of Golf”.


2021 Morton Golf Foundation Scholarship Winners Celebrated at Golf & Guitars

On Monday, October 18th, 2021 the 20 Scholarship WINNERS for Morton Golf Foundation were invited to go on stage and be recognized for their high school achievements through the game of golf.

The scholarship winners are awarded dollars to use to future their education.  They are not required to play golf in college to receive this scholarship.

This year with “Golf & Guitars” being held in October due to COVID-19 many of the 20 scholarship winners were already at school.

Their parents were invited to come to “Golf & Guitars” and cheer when their child’s name was announced.  It’s fun to see the picture where there are so many different ages because the parents are present in our 2021 scholarship picture.

Congratulations to all of our scholarship winners!


Jaden Dmdumaya Wins Regional Qualifier of The Drive, Chip and Putt National Competition

Morton Golf Foundation junior golfer, Jaden Dumdumaya wins his way to the final Drive, Chip & Putt National Competition the Sunday before The Masters in Augusta, CA in 2022. 

This event is a combined effort of The Masters, USGA and PGA and is free to all participating juniors.

Jaden always had a dream of winning this competition since he starting competing in the Drive, Chip & Putt at the age of 7.

He finally won his age level of Boys, 14 – 15 on Sunday, September 26th, 2021 at the Regional Qualifier with his final putt in front of his family & friends.

Next stop . . . The Masters to compete in the final Drive, Chip & Putt on April 3rd, 2022 the Sunday before The Masters.

Continued good luck, Jaden!


Morton Golf Foundation Supports First Tee-Greater Sacramento at Pure Insurance Championship

Morton Golf Foundation was thrilled to support our First Tee of Greater Sacramento Junior Golfers at the PURE Insurance Championship this week. 

Nikki Chindavong,  Hannah Harrison, Ethan Liu, Ellie Sand & Haley Wong were the 5 talented junior golfers from First Tee -Greater Sacramento chosen to play in the PURE Insurance Championship this week. 

The fun began on Tuesday evening at a Pairings Party when they found out which Champions PGA TOUR player they were paired with.  Then it was off to practice rounds on both Pebble Beach Golf Links & Spyglass Hill.  The first day of the tournament was Friday & Ethan Liu & Nikki Chindavong had tee times at Pebble Beach.  One of the most scenic golf courses in the world.

Saturday these juniors play their next round in hopes of being in the Championship foursome on Sunday the final day.

It’s so rewarding to see fans come out to cheer on junior golfers from around the United States.

Check out the fun picture below when Nikki Chindavong was coming off of Hole #3 as Ethen Liu was finishing Hole # 16. The Sacramento cheering section gathered for a group shot with both junior golfers.

Continued good luck to the First Tee – Greater Sacramento junior players on and off the course.   We are all very proud of these young adults as they make contacts & friends this week that they will carry on into their future.


Austin Smotherman Morton Golf Foundation Alumnus Earns PGA Tour Playing Card

What fun watching our past Morton Golf Foundation 2012 College Scholarship Winner play in his 1st PGA TOUR tournament in the Fortinet Championship, Silverado Country Club, Napa, CA on September 16 – 19, 2021.

We all remember on his 13th birthday when he was hitting long drives at The First Tee Bodycraft charity golf tournament at Granite Bay Golf Club.

Another Morton Golf Foundation alumnus, Richie Gibbs was quoted as, “When I, my brother Alex & Austin were little we would play golf at Indian Creek Golf Course in Loomis, CA and pretend that we were on the PGA TOUR. Austin this week was not pretending. He has arrived.

Austin made the cut in his 1st appearance as a PGA TOUR Professional in front of family & friends. He had the biggest cheering crowd that we could see on the course. His wife Jesse of 5 years was there as they now reside in Dallas, TX where Jesse works in the fashion industry.

In 2012, Austin graduated from Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA, and was awarded a Morton Golf Foundation College Scholarship. He was then off to play college golf all 4 years at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

When we ask a junior golfer what they want to be when they grow up many of them answer, “On the PGA TOUR”. This proves it can happen.

Let’s continue to cheer Austin on as he continues his PGA TOUR career ahead from all his Sacramento fans!