Like many young golfers, Lauryn Nguyen works hard on her game. She has aspirations to play collegiate golf and she dreams of one day representing Team USA in the Olympics and the LPGA Solheim Cup as a professional golfer. This past year, Lauryn took great strides toward those goals, but she also prioritized something else that is important to her: supporting and inspiring the next generation of young golfers. This is the story of her big drive for The First Tee!
Lauryn travels locally and nationally to compete in tournaments, and yet finds a way to balance her golf commitment with the demands of school. Along with a +2.5 handicap, she also carries a 3.95 GPA. While many of her peers sleep in, Lauryn gets up at 6:30am each day to study before heading off to school. When she gets home, 2-3 hours of homework await after dinner. While demanding, her routine helps ensure her success in school and on the golf course.
Lauryn received her first set of clubs on her 5th birthday. She participated in classes at The First Tee at Jefferson Park when she was in kindergarten. She quickly picked up the game and started playing lots of golf with her family and hasn’t looked back. Growing up within the Seattle golf community, Lauryn looked up to Marianne Li, a superstar golfer from Newport High School, who was selected to play in The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach and would go on to play at the University of California, Berkeley. She was also inspired by Sarah Rhee, who went on to play at the University of Washington and was a member of the Huskies’ 2016 NCAA Championship team. Inspired by watching Marianne and Sarah, Lauryn wanted to be “just like them” one day. In that pursuit, she has become quite an exceptional person as well.
Now a sophomore at West Seattle High School, Lauryn is considered one of the best female golfers in the state, and certainly on her way to achieving her golf dreams. In 2017, she became one of the youngest WJGA State Champions, at just 14 years old. In 2018, Lauryn anchored the WJGA Girls’ Junior Americas Cup team, earning the MVP award as she helped the team win a 3rd place medal, the first medal finish in almost 18 years for Team Washington! She also holds the ladies course record at West Seattle Golf Course, posting a 5-under par at the 2018 High School Metro League Championships.
What makes her even more exceptional, however, is Lauryn’s motivation to give back to the next generation of young golfers. You may even have seen Lauryn at Jefferson Park, where she’s often coaching with the Girls’ Golf program. Or you may have met her at the Ladies on the Links event at Broadmoor Golf Club, where she impressed the field with her big smile and even bigger drives. There are dozens of young golfers in Seattle who look up to Lauryn as a mentor and a role model, and it’s not because of her trophy collection. Along with her busy school and golf schedule, Lauryn has found time to volunteer with weekly classes and special events at The First Tee, forming a relationship with many young female golfers, and encouraging them to follow their dreams on and off the golf course.
Golf and school accomplishments aside, Lauryn’s most impressive achievement in the past year is, without a doubt, the fundraising effort she took on to raise money for other young golfers through the AJGA Leadership Links. With pledges toward each of her 97 birdies made during tournament play in 2018, Lauryn competed in 12 tournaments. With donation matching from the USGA and the Microsoft Employee Giving Program, Lauryn raised a total of $14,938! The First Tee of Greater Seattle was her primary beneficiary, receiving $7,625. Lauryn also contributed $4,812 to the AJGA Ace Grant (supporting tournament golfers with financial assistance for tournament entry fees) and $2,500 to the Jack Nicklaus Children’s Health Foundation.
Lauryn is passionate about giving back to her community because she appreciates the sacrifices her family makes to allow her the privilege to golf at such a competitive level. She understands that not every kid has access to golf. As a refugee, escaping Vietnam on a fishing raft, her mother was raised in public housing where none of the kids in her neighborhood knew the difference between a driver and putter, let alone be afforded the opportunity to pick up the game.
Lauryn chose The First Tee as her primary beneficiary because The First Tee introduces the game of golf and teaches valuable life skills to all kids, regardless of their financial status. Lauryn’s donation ensures that nearly 40 young golfers will have the opportunity to participate with The First Tee on full scholarship this year!
Thank you, Lauryn, for your inspiration and stewardship. You are a superstar both on and off the course!
Q&A with Lauryn
Why is philanthropy (giving back) important to you?
I know that there are so many things that have helped shape me to be the person that I am. Giving back is a way to show my appreciation to all those people who helped raised me in all aspects of my life.
What is your favorite class in school?
Forensic Science, which I am taking as an elective (I am already taking Honors Chemistry as my science requirement).
Why is The First Tee special?
I remember the days that I used to be in First Tee in Kindergarten, being really excited on days when I had a class. First Tee not only taught me golf skills but also the etiquette that goes along with the game.
What professional golfer(s) do you most look up to?
I really look up to Gerina Piller, I remember when my family and I went to the Solheim Cup and I wanted to get all the signatures of all the Team USA players. I was SHOCKED by how rude and arrogant some of the players were. I watched a little girl cry because one of the pros wouldn’t stop to acknowledge the fans after her round. But, Gerina was really friendly. She took the time to talk with everyone, she thanked all of us for coming out to support Team USA and she signed everyone’s stuff. I really loved how humble she was despite her fame. I want to carry myself like Gerina when I’m a pro golfer.
Lauryn’s golf accomplishments
- 1st – 2017 WJGA State Championship (Girls 14 to 18-year-old division)
- 2nd – 2018 WJGA State Championship (Girls 14 to 18-year-old division)
- Course Record Holder (10/11/2018): 5 under par (67), WIAA Metro League Golf Championships at West Seattle Golf Course, 5,600 yards (70.6/120)
- 2017 & 2018 USGA Girls Junior Championship participant
- 2018 Girls’ Junior PGA Championship participant
- MVP – 2018 WJGA Girls Junior America Cup Team (First time the WJGA time won a medal in 18 years! 3rd Place Team finish, 5th/72 Place Individual Finish)
Video interview with lauryn
Lauryn will continue her fundraising efforts for the 2019 season. She’ll keep making birdies, and you can make your pledge to keep the support coming for The First Tee of Greater Seattle here: bit.ly/LaurynNguyen