Intown Runaround: A remarkable young golfer
Golf enthusiasts will recognize Martavious Adams and his winning smile from TV spots for The First Tee that run during major pro tournaments. This innovative program tutors children in areas such as self-management, goal setting and interpersonal skills through the game of golf. I sat down with the Ben Franklin High School senior and his coach, Nyre Williams, at Charlie Yates golf course to learn more about The First Tee of East Lake and this remarkable young man.
Coach Williams, let me start with you. You also serve as the Director of the First Tee at East Lake. Can you give a brief overview of the program?
We currently have 676 kids enrolled. They range in age from 5 years old through high school and we serve the 30316 and 30317 zip codes plus the Drew Charter School. We teach life skills as well as golf and split the kids into four levels – Par, Birdie, Eagle and Ace so there is a progression as they mature as people and golfers. The Ace level requires a volunteer component as well. For more information check out thefirstteeeastlake.org.
Who founded the program?
The developer Tom Cousins was largely responsible for not only this program but for so many of the positive initiatives in this area including Drew Charter School. The PGA is also one of the trustees of the First Tee. Each year we get to have a couple of our kids act as on-course reporters from the tournament at East Lake Golf Course which is a lot of fun.
And what can you tell me about Martavious, who has now become the face of the program?
Martavious picked up the game very quickly. He had a single digit handicap in less than two years but more importantly he went from a C student to an A student. The younger kids really look up to him and he volunteers so much of his time helping teach them. In 2010 he won the prestigious Bill Dickey Invitational, which brings in minority youth golfers from all over the country to compete.
And with that humble introduction I’ll pivot to Martavious himself and start with a few hard hitting journalistic inquiries starting with – How far do you drive the ball? What’s your handicap? Have you ever had a hole in one?
I drive the ball about 285 and my handicap is currently a 3. My most memorable hole in one…
Your most memorable one? For someone like me who has played a lot of golf in their 40 years and never carded an ace this might be a frustrating story to hear. Anyway, as you were saying…
What? They’re not something you like, count, are they? Well, like I was saying the most memorable one I had was on a trip to Scotland – we got to play six of the 11 courses in St. Andrews on an eight day trip – and I dropped one in on one bounce on #13 at Kingsbarns.
What is it about golf that can impact a kid’s life in ways that soccer or basketball cannot?
It’s unique in that you actually communicate with your competitors and it helps you learn life skills and even some business skills. It’s also a lifetime sport whereas with most others people have to stop playing when they are about 35.
Tell me about it… I hear you had a chance to play with Tom Watson?
I’ve played several rounds with Tom Watson and he is an even better person than he is a golfer and he still hits it pure. I’ve also played with Jim Furyk and John Cook.
Did you beat any of them?
You don’t strike me as someone who is too stressed out but do you feel pressure being a point man for this organization?
What’s life without pressure? But no, it’s not overwhelming and I think it is helpful in school and on the course to have a little pressure on me.
Do you think that relaxed attitude helps your game?
Most definitely. I try to keep my emotions in check. I get to play a lot of golf with older men and I see the maturity and etiquette they maintain out there.
Do you know where you’ll be heading in the fall?
I’m still undecided but perhaps The College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick.
So what do you do when you aren’t on the golf course or focusing on school?
I play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee.
A couple of months ago I played in a tournament here at Charlie Yates and you were stationed on the second tee for a “Beat the Pro” promotion. Somehow my wife got it closer to the pin than you and now she claims it as her greatest golfing achievement ever. So…what the heck happened?
Well, it’s not polite to beat a lady is it? I wanted her to feel good about her game!