Golf is known for bringing people together. For Mike and Ed Whims, golf has brought their family together.
You see, Mike and Ed are brothers and some of their treasured family time is spent coaching for The First Tee. You can often find the dynamic duo at Blue Heron helping kids gain the same benefits from junior golf that they enjoyed. Mike began volunteering with The First Tee in 2012 after learning about it on the Golf Channel. After the first season, he was hooked and soon recruited Ed so they could share the joy of coaching together.
We asked Mike and Ed about their time with The First Tee. Here is what they had to say:
Why are you passionate about the work of the First Tee?
Mike: I feel that golf is a metaphor for life: all of the highs and lows, winning and losing, ups and downs, and the good bounces and bad that one experiences in life can also be found on the golf course. You get to chose how you are going to respond. Using golf and the curriculum we teach is such a beautiful way to introduce young people to life’s challenges and instill a value system that enhances their chances of being successful. It’s a privilege to be a tiny part of that.
Ed: Mike and I come from a large family of 6 boys and a girl. We all got involved in junior golf in the Seattle area. Most of my summers would be spent caddying or playing golf with my friends or one of my brothers. We would be at the course from dawn to dusk having putting contests or helping the golf pro clean carts. It was a community within a community and we made friends, had a lot of fun and learned about competing. The major competition each year for me would be a match with my brothers to see who got to be our dad’s partner in the annual father and son tournament on Fathers Day at Sand Point. What great memories they were! I get that same feeling of community every Saturday when I show up to teach at Blue Heron: young people, learning about life, making friends, having fun, and playing golf!
What is your favorite part about coaching with The First Tee?
Mike: What stands out are those special “teachable moments ” you encounter when issues comes up with players. You get to help them understand the long-term implications of their behavior such as their judgment or honesty and you come to an understanding with them. In the moment it can be uncomfortable, but then they get it and you know it needed to be addressed and they grow from it. That is most rewarding.
Ed: For me it is seeing the growth in the players. Season after season, you see them come back and maybe they’ve grown a little taller but you begin to notice the maturity that they display and the adherence to the core values they show. It is worthwhile to be involved with them.
What do you enjoy most about coaching with your brother?
Mike: It is great to have Ed do some of the demonstrations. He has a great golf swing but what really catches the eye of the other coaches and players is when he struts across stage with his unusual warm-up stretching exercises!
Ed: We’ve played golf for a long time and played many rounds together. We know golf and the immense joy and camaraderie you get to experience with other players. In our coaching, we enjoy passing on the fun and playfulness and friendly competition that golf offers. It’s great that I get to share this with my brother.
Blue Heron is a relatively new partner course for The First Tee. Tell us about coaching there.
Mike: It offers a huge practice green and multiple practice locations for your short game. The staff has been helpful and have provided us with an equipment and club storage facility which also provides a meeting area for indoor activities. There is also a nice restaurant and bar that is newly built with a huge deck.
Ed: Mike’s right. The new owner has invested a lot of money in course improvements and the new pro shop/restaurant/ bar facility. It is very nice and the food is great! My favorite is the “Steak Oscar.” I’ve noticed our parents having lunch there while waiting for their children or the families eat together afterwards. I highly recommend it.
What is one fun fact about the Whims boys?
After 18 holes of golf, we like to keep the competition going with a friendly game of “Pitch” at the 19th hole. It’s an old card game that plays fast and is fun. The playing partners on the course become the playing partners at the table. It’s kind of like a bridge game. We have introduced Coach Evan and a few other coaches to it and they appear to be hooked as well.