Life lessons on the golf course | Local teens earn First Tee honors

Golf is a way of life for Lindsay Chinn and Johnie Freatman. Chinn is a member of the Mercer Island High School golf team, and Freatman plays for the team at The Bear Creek School. Outside of school, neither athlete looks to escape golf as they participate in programs with The First Tee of Seattle, an organization aiming to provide life lessons through the game of golf.

After a combined total of nine years between the duo with the organization, Chinn and Freatman were honored as 2009 First Tee Scholars, giving them access to a unique set of opportunities through the program.

Freatman was one of three course reporters at the 2009 World Golf Championships in Doral, Fla., through the CA Course Reporters Program. During his assignment he interviewed Tiger Woods.

Freatman, who lives on the Island, grew up playing at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle.

According to his mother he will be attending the University of Soutern Califonia in the fall to major in communication.

Chinn will be speaking today at the First Tee Congressional Breakfast in Washington, D.C., about her experience with First Tee.

“They are the absolute stars of our program,” said Gordy Graybeal, program director for The First Tee of Seattle Life Skills program. “They are exemplary.”

Chinn’s involvement in the program came as part of almost natural succession with golf. She grew up golfing at the Jackson Park Golf Course because it was the closest to her house.

“I’ve always golfed here,” she said. “Even before First Tee was here.” Chinn added that, in 2004, she signed up for her first class with First Tee and continued through the various stages of the program. Chinn has also served as a summer intern, along with Freatman, and was a member of the junior advisory board.

Chinn has been preparing for the D.C. event, a little nervous for her speech.

“It is a little nerve-wracking,” she said of speaking in front of so many people. “The magnitude is pretty big.”

Other than a slight case of the nerves, Chinn said she was looking forward to the event and to meeting Fred Couples, who will attend the Congressional Breakfast. Couples, a PGA member who is originally from Seattle, used to play regularly at Jackson Golf Course, Chinn said.

“It will be neat to meet him,” she said.

The First Tee of Greater Seattle Life Skills Experience program has approximately 1,000 students participate each year.

For more information on the organization visit

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