Spunky. Charismatic. Dedicated. Thoughtful. Passionate.
These are the adjectives that come to mind when I think about Deb Fitzgerald. A Level 1 trained coach for The First Tee of the Sandhills, she is a transplant to the area from Arlington, Virginia. While her youth was spent on the left coast, most of her adult life has been spent on the right coast.
Deb’s road to Pinehurst is about as cool of a story to tell as the streak of red in her hair.
In 2006, Deb and her then Fiancé, had fallen head over heels for Pinehurst – they shared a love for golf, the low key atmosphere of our town and the tree lined streets – during a fall golf trip they employed a local realtor to find them their dream retirement property, or so they thought, and quickly had put an offer on the table.
After their offer had been accepted, they began their drive back to Virginia, dreaming of how many years it may be before they were able to relocate to this low key golf town, permanently.
Well, they had caught the bug and waiting until retirement just wasn’t an option!
Then, one day they received a call from their realtor, “guys, you know that only ONE of you can be on the Pinehurst Country Club membership, the other will have to pay guest fees…so, who’s it going to be?”
While Deb thought this was just crazy, they were engaged grown adults purchasing a home, they went along with it for a few months, but on a whim, they decided to push up their wedding date and on New Year’s Eve 2006 they married at the Pinehurst Hotel in front of a close group of family and friends.
Membership dilemma resolved!
Soon to follow was the expediting of their permanent move to Pinehurst. At the time, Deb worked for Marriott and was approved to work remotely, her now husband, the same. So, in June of 2007, they officially became Pinehurst residents, driver’s license and all.
Between 2007 and 2014 Deb’s role in the business world shifted. Her department at Marriott was let go and she was itching to stay busy. She began picking up some small volunteer roles with the local Convention Center, Prancing Horse and clowning around at First Health, but was still wanting more. A reservations job opened at Pinehurst Resort and she was in – sharing her story with future resort guest, via phone, for two years, a time window in which she even talked a few customers into relocating to Pinehurst!
Volunteering for the 2014 US Opens was one of Deb’s highlights in the community. It marked a change in lifestyle, she was officially a full time volunteer.
Today, Deb splits her volunteer time with the Pet Responsibility Council, working with 4th Graders in Elementary Schools across Moore County teaching children to be animal advocates, spending Wednesday’s at First Health in a Clown Costume, perking up patients and guest, and at The First Tee of the Sandhills, leading curriculum programs to PLAYer and Par level participants.
Deb began volunteering at The First Tee in the spring of 2015 as an assistant coach. In her role she enjoyed supporting the lead coach, aiding in the delivery of that days Life Skill, Core Value and Golf Instruction.
Deb became more and more passionate about the time she was spending at The First Tee as she began to see the mission being delivered through the eyes of the young people. It was then that her purpose at The First Tee became clear.
The opportunity to use golf to share life lessons with children, to teach them the game behind the game.
In August of 2016, Deb attended The First Tee’s Level 1 training, a nationally taught three day training program, preparing coaches to become leaders at the local chapter.
Upon returning from training, armed with new content and an even more enthusiasm, she took over as lead coach at the PLAYer and Par programs at Pinewild and the Just for Girls PLAYer program at Pinehurst No. 6.
When asked, Deb says her favorite lesson to teach is on Honesty and Integrity. She loves talking to kids about how golf is self-refereed compared to other competitive sports that employ referees; and what it means to call a penalty on yourself.
One of Deb’s goals as a coach at The First Tee is to engage more young girls and keep them involved for the long haul. She is committed to being a part of their go-to team as a coach, mentor or simply ‘cool Aunt Deb’.
If you daughter, or son, is looking for a fun experience at the course, get them signed up for spring programs with Coach Deb – I’ll guarantee they will come home excited about their experience and what’s to come.
On a personal note, thank you, Deb, for sharing your passions with The First Tee of the Sandhills. I’m looking forward to growing together for many years to come!