Young golfer wins big scholarship

Published 6:14 pm Monday, November 20, 2017

A Suffolk high school student has been rewarded for his ambition, generosity and love of golf.

Gerry Jones Jr., 16, and Meghna Mazumdar were named The First Tee’s outstanding participants for the organization’s 20th anniversary network meeting recently in Florida.

Both received $20,000 scholarships from The First Tee corporate partner Shell Oil Company for their exemplary achievements in academics, community service, chapter involvement and leadership, according to a press release.

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They were among eight finalists out of 28 young golfers that attended The First Tee Outstanding Participant & Leadership Summit, which gave lessons on becoming leaders in their respective chapters, schools and communities.

“It felt amazing, because throughout the whole week we were going throughout workshops and nobody had any idea who was going to end up winning,” Jones said. “When I heard my name, I was speechless. It’s definitely a big honor.”

Since age 5, he’s been a member of the Hampton Roads chapter of The First Tee youth development organization, which introduces golf and its values to more than 30,000 young people across the country. It is connected to the YMCA of South Hampton Roads.

He coaches children ages 5 to 12 as a First Tee Character Education Golf Coach and Mentor at golf courses throughout Hampton Roads. He said he enjoys teaching them the core principles of the organization: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

“I always enjoy teaching the younger kids what I learned, and maybe teaching them more,” he said.

On Aug. 25, he and his golf buddies Colin Cartwright and Owen Shikimachi raised money for The First Tee of Hampton Roads and The American Junior Golf Association “Ace Grant Program” with his third-annual Golf-a-Thon.

Jones said he and his friends shot 100 holes from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and raised $5,720 for The First Tee of Hampton Roads. Half of that amount was matched by The USGA Foundation for The American Junior Golf Association “Ace Grant Program,” he said.

He said he raised $6,556 in the 2015 Golf-a-Thon and $5,200 in 2016.

“I think it went really well,” he said about the latest event. “It’s always cool to make an improvement over the previous year.”

He’s excited to receive the scholarship money as he tours college campuses and decides which school he wants to attend, he said.

“What I’ve learned over the past couple of months is that there are a lot of options out there,” he said. “I’m definitely going to keep my mind open for that.”