We are starting a new series where every month The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia will highlight a TFTGP Alum. Get to know our alumni and see “Where Are They Now?”
|Name: Dan Gentilucci|
|High School: Roman Catholic|
|College: Cabrini University|
|Major: Marketing – Minor Sports Management|
|Years in The First Tee Program: 10 years (’03-’13)|
Just a kid from the heart of South Philly, surrounded by the hype of Philadelphia sports. Dan Gentilucci was mesmerized by a sport other than Eagles football, Phillies baseball, or Flyers hockey. That sport, was golf. Living just a five minute walk from the stadiums, little did Gentilucci know he was also a five minute walk to the golf course that hid inside F.D.R. Park, home of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia. I sat down with Gentilucci to learn a little more about his story, and how TFTGP made him grow as a person on and off the golf course.
TFTGP: How did you get involved in golf? GENTILUCCI: When I was in 7th grade, my friends and I decided to go to the driving range at FDR one day after school. After hitting balls for about two hours, I was hooked. Since that day I basically never stopped. I always thought golf was for old people but I was wrong. I kept coming back day after day then one day I saw someone in The First Tee building. So I went in and started talking to the head coach at the time. He was the one who set me up with my first set of clubs. He told me what days he held classes and how I should start to attend them. So I started taking Saturday classes then worked my way through The First Tee class levels (PLAYer to Eagle).
TFTGP: What was your favorite memory as a participant in The First Tee? GENTILUCCI: My whole Nature Valley First Tee Open experience at Pebble Beach was my favorite memory. When I got selected to play I found out through one of my friends in the program congratulating me, I had no idea. I was so excited because this was my ultimate goal. After I found out, I worked so hard with all my coaches the 3 months before I left for Pebble. I also worked on how to present myself speaking, so I would be ready for any potential interviews. I’ve never been to Pebble Beach, let alone California.
The house we got to stay in was huge and awesome. Nothing like South Philly that’s for sure. The first night my coach and I arrived we drove right to the course and I got to play the scenic holes (6 & 7). That night I received a call from Professional Golfer, Tom Kite, saying “Don’t tell anyone but I found out we are paired together.” That was awesome.
I really enjoyed the Core Values Dinner at Pebble beach. We got to sit and listen to professional golfers and how a certain core value effected their life and how they live by that core value. I was so close to meeting Arnold Palmer that night.
Since Kite was in the lead going into Sunday, we had the honor of teeing off last. I approached the first hole with cameras following my every move and rows of people about to watch me tee off. It was a pressure packed situation. I ended up making it on tv that day (3 times!) and was interviewed by Golf Channel’s David Marr.
It was an unbelievable experience.
TFTGP: What is your favorite core value and why? GENTILUCCI: My favorite core value has to be Integrity. It really measures who you are as a person and how you act when know one else is watching. Which is so important in golf. For example, on the course if I shot a double bogey on a Par 5, and my playing partner asked if I shot a 6, I would need to be honest and tell him I shot a 7.
It also made me realize how important Integrity is when I went to my catholic high school and had to attend Mass on Friday’s at the end of the day. A lot of students would sneak out and go home, I made sure to always stay. (I’m also a good catholic boy.)
TFTGP: What did you take away from being a part of The First Tee program? GENTILUCCI: How to conduct myself on and off the course. Getting the opportunity to set foot in some of the nicest Country Clubs in the Greater Philadelphia area, I was taught quickly how to act and sometimes needing to act more mature than my actual age. (Including, no longer speaking with double negatives.) I would also say I am more confident. Starting at The First Tee I didn’t like to get up and speak in front of large groups. Now I feel more confident speaking and also teaching golf classes.
TFTGP: You are now TFTGP Program Intern, what made you want to come back to help with The First Tee? GENTILUCCI: For all they have given me, I wanted to give back to them. For sending me on all the national trips and so many other opportunities. I now teach Player/Par classes, and I am working towards going to training for Level 1 so I can teach Birdie/Eagle class. (I also needed 6 credits for college)
TFTGP: What golf accomplishments are you most proud of throughout your last 14 years? GENTILUCCI: In high school I set as a goal of mine to receive All-Catholic and go to Pebble Beach, which I accomplished both of them. I also won the Club Championship at my local course (F.D.R.). In college my freshman year we won the Colonial State Athletic Conference (CSAC) and moved on to make the NCAA Division III National Championships.
TFTGP: After you graduate from Cabrini in 2017, what field would you like to pursue a career? GENTILUCCI: I would like to stay with The First Tee. I would like to possibly relocate to a different chapter, and maybe even work for the Home Office. I think it would be a really cool experience to see how other First Tee chapters operate, and the diversity other First Tee chapters have. I would also love to pursue a golf career on the PGA TOUR.
TFTGP: If you could give on life lesson golf has taught you what would it be? GENTILUCCI: Live like there is a camera on you 24/7, when you are on the golf course and off the course. That prepared me to go to Pebble Beach because I did not use to think that way. When I went to Pebble I had to be aware of how I was behaving at all times. Even now in college, if you miss a class for a tournament, you have to make up the work. It doesn’t just disappear. Another one of my life lessons would be to pick and choose your friends. I’ve learned in the past few years to surround myself with positive people, and those people have made a positive impact on my life.
|Favorite Movie: Caddy Shack|
|Favorite TV Show: Duck Dynasty|
|Favorite Food: Macaroni and Meatballs or Chicken Quesadilla|
|Favorite Golfer: Adam Scott|
|Favorite Sports Team: Flyers and Phillies|
|Favorite Social Media App: Instagram|
|Favorite Thing About Philadelphia: The Navy Yard|