This month, we connected with Coach Jon Johnson, who recently received the Howard County Recreation and Parks “Good Sports” award for Coach of the Year. Jon is celebrating his 10th year as a coach for The First Tee of Howard County, and although born in Germany while his father was stationed there with the U.S. Army, has lived in Columbia since childhood. He works as an account executive at an IT consulting firm focused on cloud solutions and security. When he’s not coaching golf, playing golf or working, you can find him coaching wrestling, enjoying fantasy football and rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.
Q: When did your love of golf begin?
A: I became interested in golf at a very young age. I was fortunate to have a father who played the game and taught me. The appeal for me was in how difficult the game. I loved being taught how to swing the club and the instant feedback you receive from the results on every swing. No matter how good you get, there is a never-ending quest to get better. Some of my fondest memories in life are of times spent with him on the course.
Q: What is your favorite part of coaching? A: I currently coach in our Target, Player, Par and Birdie levels. There is nothing more fun or gratifying than seeing a kid struggle to hit the ball, and then showing them how to do it and then seeing them light up with joy when they hit a good shot! Though I suppose I would say my favorite part is getting to know the kids, watching them grow up and seeing the great people they become as they move on to high school and college!
Q: What do you think sets The First Tee apart from other youth golf programs?
A: What I think sets the First Tee apart from other youth golf programs is that we are a youth development program. We spend a significant amount of time focusing on not just golf skills, but also life skills and our Nine Core Values (Confidence, Respect, Judgement, Responsibility, Sportsmanship, Courtesy, Honesty, Integrity and Perseverance). While we would love to produce great golfers, we are more focused on producing great young people who love and respect the game.
Q: What piece of advice would you share with other coaches?
A: What I would share with other coaches is that coaching kids is not a one size fits all proposition. All kids don’t respond to or receive coaching in the same way, so it is important to be patient, take time to get to know your kids, and understand their needs and how to motivate or inspire them.
The First Tee’s Reach
Our chapter is one of many in The First Tee network. The First Tee is reaching young people in all 50 states and select international locations on golf courses, in elementary schools and through other youth-serving organizations.