golfer

Kharynton Beggs reacts to learning she has been selected to play in a Champions Tour event in Pebble Beach. Photo provided

An opportunity to play at Pebble Beach Golf Links alongside a PGA star sounds like a dream come true for any young golfer. Ashley Hall student Kharynton Beggs is going to live that dream in September.

Beggs, 17, is a member of The First Tee of Greater Charleston and one of 81 First Tee participants from across the country to be selected to team with a PGA Champions Tour golfer in the 2018 PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee. The event will be played Sept. 24-30 at Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif.

"These are amazing golf courses I probably would never have the chance to play," said Beggs, whose priceless reaction to learning of her selection was filmed by The Golf Channel. "It's a really amazing event and I'm extremely excited to go. It's a huge honor."

First Tee participants represent 22 states and were selected based on playing ability, an essay and application of the core values and life skills learned through their involvement with The First Tee program.

"Kharynton is super active in The First Tee," said Bucky Dudley, executive director of the local group. "The application is judged by a national panel. You are looking at their resume, their playing and how much time they are spending at the chapter and helping out. It's a real cool opportunity for Kharynton and a neat feather in our chapter's cap."

Beggs began participating in The First Tee at age 6 in Baltimore and joined the Greater Charleston program when she and her mother, Teia, moved to Charleston so she could be nearer the International Junior Golf Tour, which is headquartered in Bluffton.

Her mother, who was a paralegal, took up the game because of the amount of business conducted on the golf course.

"My mom realized how much value golf can be later on in life, that even if you're not great, it's still a great skill to have," Beggs said.

Her father Chris, who died two years ago in a motorcycle accident, "was the worst golfer ever, but when I fell in love with the game and he saw I had a passion, he would watch The Golf Channel every single morning ... so he could teach me something."

The First Tee program has been a second family to Beggs, who said Dudley has been like a second father to her.

"The First Tee is not just a program, it's my family. It's my life," she said. "I've been to six national opportunities and made friends all over the country. The First Tee is so beautiful because it's not all about golf, it's about the connections. It's about the fun. It's about the memories you make."

In addition to the weekly programs, Beggs also volunteers and mentors First Tee participants. She said college golf is definitely in her future.

"If you stay with The First Tee, it gives you something to look forward to in the week. I love going to class. All my best friends are in The First Tee," Beggs said.

"Ultimately, moving to Charleston has been the best thing to happen to me and for my golf game. I've been able to connect with The First Tee of Greater Charleston. I've been able to go to numerous national events. Pebble Beach is icing on the cake."

The Champions Tour, previously known as the Senior PGA Tour, is for pros age 50 and over. Among the golf greats on the tour are Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples and Davis Love III.