Flaggs uses more than a 3-wood to snag camp leadership honor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 30, 2002

[07/30/02]Elliott Flaggs says he doesn’t talk as much as did before he took up golf, but the 17-year-old Vicksburg High senior-to-be was recently rewarded for using his mouth on the course.

Flaggs was one of 106 golfers selected from more than 100,000 nationwide to attend The First Tee National Academy in Manhattan, Kan., July 13-20. While there, Flaggs received the Earl Woods “Playing Through” Determination Award for leadership. It is the highest honor given to the golfers at the camp.

“He was head and shoulders above the kids in my group,” said Kasiya Phiri, one of Flaggs’ instructors at the Academy. “I was impressed by how he would step forward and help others. He lends a hand without being too dominating.”

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Flaggs was handpicked for the camp from the Alcorn State University chapter of The First Tee program. The First Tee is a PGA program designed to expose and promote golf among minorities and the nation’s youth.

At the Academy, Phiri said Flaggs showed his leadership skills by helping a girl from Arkansas through some of the drills.

“He worked a little extra with this girl from Arkansas who wasn’t as skilled as some of the others,” Phiri said. “He made remarks to her that made her feel good, instead of putting her down or making her feel bad.”

Flaggs took up golf three years ago, and his scores have dropped as much as his tone of voice, he said.

“It’s calmed me down a lot. I’m very talkative, and you can’t talk a lot out there on the course,” Flaggs said.

Now a 6-handicap, Flaggs regularly shoots in the high 70s. He hopes to join the PGA Tour one day, but for now he’s simply taking in the life lessons that golf offers. Next year, he also hopes to go from being a student to being a counselor at The First Tee academy.

“You meet tons of people … and how you’re supposed to be a gentleman on the golf course. It helps you in the real world,” Flaggs said of the Academy. “If I’m determined to go pro, then all I have to do is set my goals and go for it, and say I can’ instead of I can’t’.”