As students of the First Tee of Valparaiso at Creekside Golf Course, Kyle Meinhofer and Harley Dubsky learned there's more to golf that just golf.
"Aside from how to hold the club and how to carry my own bag, one of the first things I learned was how to introduce myself," Meinhofer said. "If you play golf, a lot of times you're going to be playing with strangers.
"This taught me how meet people who, if it weren't for golf, I would normally never get a chance to know."
Golf has also helped Dubsky become more sociable.
"It's really a small world when it comes to golf," said Dubsky, who played at the renowned Gullane Golf Club in Scotland as a 12-year-old prodigy. "Really, I was shy as a kid before I started First Tee. I used to mumble a lot and was afraid to speak clearly in front of a group of people.
"Playing the game and being around it have made a difference in my life."
Not only has First Tee helped Meihofer and Dubsky with their social skills, but their golf skills have also blossomed as varsity players for Valparaiso High School.
Meihofer carded the Vikings' lowest score in the first round of the IHSAA State Finals this spring. Dubsky, who was named "Female Prep Tour Player of the Year" in 2008 by the Indiana Golf Association, has twice finished in the individual Top 10 at the IHSAA Girls State Finals.
Meihofer, who will be a senior next school year, and Dubsky, who will be a junior, have both been selected to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open, July 6-8, at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California. Both players will be paired with a PGA professional from the Champions Tour (pros ages 50 and over).
"My dad was hoping family members could play a practice round because he's always wanted to play Pebble Beach," Dubsky said, "but they won't let him, so I'll end up getting to play there first."
To be among the 81 players selected from First Tee programs worldwide, applicants needed to submit their golf accomplishments and an essay about what the game means to them and their goals for the future.
"Then we were interviewed by several members of the local golf community," Meihofer said.
It was the first time Meihofer and Dubsky applied for the First Tee Open. They both have remained active in First Tee by helping mentor younger players new to the program.
Both are familiar with Pebble Beach, but only through the virtual sense and second-hand knowledge.
"One of my coaches (Scott Gump from Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy in Florida) told me that I need to be patient," Dubsky said. "He said that the grass grows during play and the greens are very small."
Though they won't know who they are paired with until they reach California, Meihofer and Dubsky are both excited about the potential learning experience.
They're also looking forward to their remaining seasons with the Vikings.
"We'll have all of our guys coming back except Logan (Bertalan)," Meihofer said of the 2012 graduate, who twice was selected for the First Tee Open.