Koenig Breaks Ground with RGV Tour across the Country
Fundraising to Support The First Tee of Greater Seattle
By Aaron Lommers
Special to The First Tee of Greater Seattle
We’ve all thought about it. What if I just quit my job and dedicated my time to something I’m really passionate about? Though most of us have thought about it, few actually follow through.
Seattle’s Patrick Koenig is actually living the dream.
In late 2017, Koenig decided to quit his job as a Global Account Executive for West Unified Communications Services to embark on a journey around the United States playing golf and raising money for the First Tee of Greater Seattle.
The RGV tour as it’s called (Recreational Golf Vehicle), kicked off with a send off at Jefferson Park Golf Course on January 27, followed by a round of golf at the site of the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place near Tacoma. That round was the first of many Koenig would play at around 300 different courses across the country before the tour concludes back in Seattle in January of 2019.
Koenig spoke via phone after playing Dancing Rapids in Philadelphia, Mississippi in late April. Mississippi was the 11th state Koenig had played golf and is about three-and-a-half months into the 12- month trip.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Koenig said. “This was kind of the idea that I envisioned when I started this tour, and it’s pretty exciting that it came to life.”
Since leaving, Koenig said there has only been about five days where he has not played a round of golf, but he’s made up for that by playing 36 holes about 10 times to average just over a round played each day.
For Koenig, the trip is about more than just playing golf. It is about raising money to get youth involved in a sport that has been so important for him throughout his life.
“I tried to think of the places that have helped me and I said, ‘Man, golf is the thing that has done the most for me, almost without even realizing it,’” Koenig said. “It used to be in life and in golf, I was a little hotheaded, and at times it would get the better of me. It wasn’t good. You quickly kind of realize in golf that doesn’t fly at all, if you want to play well or be fun to play with.
“It would’ve been better if I had been in The First Tee, because I would’ve learned some of these things that kind of took me a while to learn,” Koenig added. “That’s why I decided to do it. These kids will have an opportunity to get exposed to the game and get teaching – stuff that I didn’t have at a much younger age. They can benefit from the same things that golf has given me. That’s exactly why I wanted to do this.”
Koenig set a goal of raising $10,000 for The First Tee of Greater Seattle and is well on his way, raising nearly half that amount already. He hopes to raise more than the original goal but said he won’t set a new mark until the original mark is achieved.
Just how big would a $10,000 donation to First Tee be? It costs around $500 to put a child through the program for one year. If he hits his goal that means at least 20 kids will be able to go through the program.
“What Patrick is doing for us, obviously it helps financially with donations that will come in,” First Tee program director Evan Johnsen said. “But even more than that, just kind of inspiring the next generation of golfers, that’s a huge part of it.”
Koenig posts frequently on social media and on his blog (www.pjkoenig.com/golf-blog). Through his posts, he has met several people all over the country interested in what he is doing and willing to play a round with him when he visits their state. One such player is Brent Christy, who lives in Wichita, Kansas.
“The people have probably been the best part, because they’ve just been very generous,” Koenig said. “Once they understand what I’m doing, they are like, ‘Wow, that’s awesome.’ They kind of look at me like, ‘What? Man, this guy is weird.’ When I’m explaining it to them for the first time.”
Koenig and Christy played three rounds at three different courses in or near Wichita and Christy hosted him for his stay. The two became friends and still communicate frequently throughout Koenig’s travels.
“It’s incredible,” Christy said. “If I didn’t have a great wife and a little kiddo, that would be the dream trip for me to go on. That’s the best way I can try to describe it, it’s just a dream trip. Who doesn’t want to go and play all these awesome courses across the United States. It’s really just an incredible opportunity that he has.”
Koenig doesn’t have any children, but he is married to a woman he calls, “the most understanding wife ever.” Though his idea may have sounded crazy to some, his wife supported his decision to travel the country raising money and has even joined him briefly along the way.
“The short story is I’ve always supported her in what she wanted to do, so when I came up with this idea she was very happy to help support me and my dreams, as dumb as it is driving around the country in an RV,” Koenig said.
One thing is certain, Koenig’s idea, which he bankrolled himself, is unique and not likely to be replicated any time soon.
“What he’s doing is unlike anything that’s ever been done,” Johnsen said. “There is no other RGV tour that I’ve ever heard of. It’s pretty groundbreaking, actually. For all the efforts that people go through to be creative and do different things, the level of commitment that it takes to quit your job and set out on a solo journey for a full year, apart from your wife, family and everything you know… that is a legendary journey, and definitely a story that we continue to share with our participants, families, and fellow golfers. You never know when the next person will find their spark of interest to do something extraordinary, or where their journey will take them.”
All contributions on behalf of the RGV Tour go directly to The First Tee of Greater Seattle and are 100% tax deductible.
About The First Tee
The First Tee of Greater Seattle was formed in 2001 through a collaboration between the Broadmoor Golf Club Foundation, The First Tee, the Board of Municipal Golf of Seattle and the City of Seattle. We became the 106th chapter of The First Tee on December 20, 2002. While our legal name is the Seattle Junior Golf Foundation, we do business as The First Tee of Greater Seattle.
At The First Tee, kids and teens are learning to play golf along with life lessons and leadership skills. Experts in youth development, golf, and coaching came together to develop The First Tee Life Skills Curriculum. Through the curriculum, coaches seamlessly integrate golf and character building activities into each lesson. As a child progresses through The First Tee Life Skills Experience, the activities and life lessons become more involved, helping young people build character and become even more equipped to make good choices on and off the golf course.
We serve more than 1,800 young people annually at 9 different facilities in King County. We also partner with more than 200 local elementary and middle schools to bring the game and its inherent core values to more than 100,000 students during the school day.
Follow Patrick’s journey on the RGV Tour!