Brayden Miles completed the 48-page application with five separate essays and aced the interview with First Tee of the Inland Northwest’s board of directors.
All that remained was setting the alarm for 4 a.m. to watch Golf Channel’s Morning Drive for the live announcement of the 81 First Tee youngsters selected to play at famed Pebble Beach.
And then Miles and his mom and dad waited.
“It went by states, starting on the East Coast,” the Central Valley High sophomore said. “The Washington region was like the last one. My name was called at 5:59. We were freaking out, we were jumping around, everyone was crying.”
Miles will be paired with two amateurs and a PGA Champions Tour member for the PURE Insurance Championship in late September. He’s hoping to play with Fred Couples, but won’t find out until a few days prior to the tournament.
Miles and his Champions Tour partner will play a best-ball format. There’s a cut after two rounds in the pro-junior tournament. First Tee golfers that don’t make the cut will play in their own event at Poppy Hills.
“It’s a real honor to play at one of the top-five courses in the world,” said Miles, who was selected by the First Tee organization’s national panel.
Over the last 15 years, some 870 First Tee kids have played in the tournament, an official Champions Tour event won by Bernhard Langer last year, but the selection of Miles was a significant first for the Inland Northwest chapter.
First Tee of the Inland Northwest has been around for seven years and is relatively small in participation numbers and budget compared to most of the 150 chapters. There are roughly 300 kids in the summer session.
“We’re looking to grow,” executive director Todd Sturgis said, “and we think this selection will help in our growth.”
Miles has grown up with First Tee of the Inland Northwest as one of its original members. He started playing golf at age 3 and joined the First Tee at 8, his first year of competitive golf.
“I was one of the youngest kids, so it was pretty nerve-wracking, but my grandpa was the teacher,” said Miles, who qualified for the State 4A tournament as a freshman. “It was pretty nice to have somebody I knew.
“It was just so I could learn the rules of the game and there are a lot of life skills that you can learn, too.”
One example: Miles attended a First Tee academy at Michigan State University focused on leadership as well as golf. He’s stayed in touch with several classmates.
Miles is doing everything he can to have his game ready for late September. He’s playing in events on the Washington, Idaho, Rocky Mountain and American junior golf association circuits.
“I haven’t (played Pebble Beach), but yes, I play it on the simulators at the golf course and I played it on Xbox,” Miles said. “I’ve gone on the (Pebble Beach) website and looked it up.”
Miles said he’ll have plenty of support at Pebble Beach with “tons of people going down, aunts, uncles, everybody.”
The Miles family has a connection to the tournament and Pebble Beach via family friend Mark Johnson, a former Champions Tour player.
“My father-in-law, my brother and myself would go to Pebble to watch him play,” said Mark Miles, Brayden’s father. “We used to think how cool would it be if Brayden could play in this tournament.”
Mark probably would have caddied for his son if the timing had been different. Players were allowed caddies until a few years ago, but now they carry their own clubs.
Sturgis said Miles is an ideal representative of the Inland Northwest chapter.
“One of our coaches said this kid is truly the complete package,” Sturgis said. “He’s a great kid, gets good grades, he’s other-people minded, he volunteers, he has leadership skills.
“On top of that, he’s a great golfer. One of the taglines for the First Tee program is we make good golfers but better people. It’s truly a testament to Brayden and his development as a golfer and a person.”
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