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SMASH FOR SUCCESS PROVIDES VIP TREATMENT TO LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL GOLFERS

News
Written by
Mike McAllister
May 13 2023
- 4 min
Brooks Koepka Tulsa high school kids

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – Brooks Koepka and his Smash GC teammates had just reached the driving range, preparing to warm up for their first round at LIV Golf Tulsa.

A group of high school golfers from Tulsa Webster awaited them. Actually, it was two teams – the boys and the girls squads, with each youngster decked out in Smash apparel.

One by one, the Smash players came by for a visit, spending time with the students, answering their questions, sharing stories about life as a professional golfer. The high schoolers are treated like VIPs, getting inside-the-ropes access. For the players from Tulsa Webster – a federally funded Title 1 school that supports low-income students – the experience leaves them wide-eyed. None of them grew up playing golf, and the school itself didn’t even have a program until two years ago.

“I definitely feel special,” said Alexis Sowell, the school’s most successful golfer, having qualified for the 3A state championship tournament in just her second year after picking up the sport. “It’s a privilege that we get to do this.”

“It’s a big deal to expose these kids to the world of golf,” added Coy Moses, one of the Webster coaches. “Hopefully this will create a lifelong passion to play the game.”

That’s the point of the Smash For Success initiative that was launched this season. At each LIV Golf tournament in the U.S., Smash invites a team of golfers from a local high school to come to the course and hang out with the team, giving them a swag bag with apparel and signed merchandise and making sure they enjoy the visit.

At LIV Golf Tucson at the inaugural Smash For Success earlier this year, five players came out. In Orlando, nine players were on site. Nine Tulsa Webster players visited the Smash team this week – including the first girls team.

“Junior golfers getting a new experience, that's what I wanted to do when I was that age, get behind the scenes, see everything,” Brooks Koepka said. “It’ll be really special this week. We're excited, and it's a cool opportunity for us just to get in touch with the younger generation and for them to be behind the scenes and see everything that goes on.”

Jason Kokrak grew up in Ohio and remembers being limited in playing golf just six months each year because the courses were shut down during the winter. He remembers the impact of attending the annual pro tournament at Firestone had on his desire to keep improving.

“Getting to see the guys up close was a lot of fun,” Kokrak recalled, “and it kind of drove me to become a professional golfer to see these guys at the elite level.”

Even if the high schoolers don’t have pro aspirations, they do have dreams of success. Chase Koepka remembers speaking with one student in Tucson who was planning to join the Air Force.

“That was pretty cool, being able to talk to him about that,” Chase said. “Just meeting these kids is super important. It’s been nice being able to meet them, see where they want to go.

“I remember what it was like to be in their shoes, getting a chance to be around professional golfers,” he added. “We’re just glad to give back and do those sorts of things.”

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