Click here for all the John Deere Classic news – on and off the course

Amazing students who thank First Tee for their success

SILVIS, Illinois– Their shots are impressive off the tee but their lives beyond the tee box are even more impressive.

Three high school students are recipients of the John Deere "Power for Good" scholarship.

"Golf has just like put me in a lot of different atmosphere, team settings, and individual setting and events like this where you just get to hang out with cool people," explained New Jersey high school senior Serena Chen who joined the First Tee program at the age of seven.

Each of the three student athletes used the First Tee program as the launching point for their young lives.

"It forced me to really push myself in a new area.   Both in the sport and in my own skills and my own development," said Varsha Nekkanti from San Jose, California who joined First Tee when she was 10 years old and has since contributed 230 hours to teach younger children about the game.

Deere and Company honored Serena, Varsha, and Neeve Chen at a luncheon, a chance for Deere to highlight the First Tee education program that tries to bring the game of golf to kids at an early age to build leaders for the future.

Deere awarded each a $5000 "John Deere Power for Good Scholarship" for their service to the community, school, and neighborhood.

"And these kids started off at 5, 6, 7, 8 years old. Some kids just wanted to quit the sport but came back because of perseverance, one of our nine core values," explained Keith Dawkins, the Chief Executive of the First Tee program.

The PGA Tour wants to cultivate the next generation of golfers.  But it's more than just the game.

"It doesn't prioritize golf," said Neeve Chen from Roseville, California.   "It's more than just the golf game, it's about who you want to be in the future."

The First Tee program in the Quad Cities started at Red Hawk Golf Center in Davenport but has expanded to the Moline YMCA and Rock island's Highland Springs Golf Course.