The First Tee Coachella Valley is a stepping stone used by many young kids that aspire to be great in the game of golf, including Braden Bernaldo.
He’s been with the local chapter of the First Tee since he was four and says that it’s much more than just a youth development organization.
“All of the volunteers and coaches that I’ve met throughout the years, I’ve built such a strong relationship with them. And it was hard for me to leave that,” says Braden for what’s kept him there for so long.
He also says, “They made me feel at home because they really got to know each individual student personally, and they were supportive and they wanted you to do your best even when you didn’t have the best days. They worked with you one on one to work out those problems and to see how you could get better. So they were very interactive with us and were very personable.”
The former Palm Desert High student was among only 40 First Tee Participants to be tapped nationwide to attend the second-annual First Tee Leadership Summit in partnership with PGA TOUR Superstore in West Creek Ranch, Montana.
And he had one way to describe it, “life changing, simply put.”
These talented group of young stars were together less than a week — but he says it’ll be a week he’ll never forget.
“An enclosed week with the other participants and all the other guest speakers that were there. I just felt like we were in our own bubble,” says Braden.
He went on to say, “It was very nice to open up to one another and kind of truly identify who we are as people and learn how to build authentic relationships. It’s a life changing experience that we will hold on to for the rest of our lives.”
All the while, Braden is no stranger to the limelight or being handpicked in a crowded sea of talent across the country.
Just last summer, he punched his way into the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. That’s just one of the many milestones he’s hit throughout his short, but nothing short of success, junior career.
Braden is entering his freshman year two time zones over in Sioux City, Iowa at Morningside University, home of the Mustangs. He’s studying business right now and says, “the goal for me mainly after college would be to build my own company. Again, I don’t know what specifically yet. I’m sure it’s gonna have something to do with golf, but that’s the main goal.”
And when asked about who stands out to him on tour right now, the young standout says, “Will Zalatoris. I think he is a very he’s an underdog on tour right now this season. He had been coming up so close, especially in majors. But he’s just been playing really consistently and I really admire that.”