Spotlight on | Golf

DAGA/First Tee still flourishes for young golfers

Laura Gonzales Escallon of Belgium tees off on the first playoff in the girls '16-18 division at the Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic at Doral Golf and Country Club on Dec. 23, 2008. She won the playoff and finished first.
Laura Gonzales Escallon of Belgium tees off on the first playoff in the girls '16-18 division at the Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic at Doral Golf and Country Club on Dec. 23, 2008. She won the playoff and finished first.
John VanBeekum / Herald File, 2008

Special to the Miami Herald

The Dade Amateur Golf Association has an illustrious alumni list of golfers and, in addition, successful people.

Many, many standouts have come out of what amounts to a zealous “kids’ program,” and zealous is meant this time in the good sense, as in doing anything and everything to advance and teach young people both skills and ethics.

Some of the golfers who learned their abilities through the Dade Amateur Golf Association include Bruce Fleisher, Briny Baird, the Raymond Floyd sons of Raymond Jr. and Robert, Cristie Kerr, Tracy Kerdyk, and Erik Compton. You could go on and on.

Even Lexi Thompson, who just won her first major championship, and Rory McIlroy played in the Doral-Publix Championship that DAGA annually puts on.

The Dade Amateur Golf Association, now merged and synonymous with The First Tee of Miami, was formed in 1963 under the guidance of Charlie DeLucca Jr., who can rightfully be called the most important person in Miami-Dade golf.

DeLucca Jr. doesn’t necessarily like the accolades, simply saying, “We’ve had a lot of success in things other than golf. We’re just naming golfers who have done well but there are so many other kids who have gone on from our program to be successful lawyers, doctors, engineers – just name it.

“As for golf,” DeLucca Jr. continued, “name nearly any golfer who came out of Miami since 1963, and he went through our program.

“We’re not talking hundreds of kids, we’re talking thousands upon thousands of kids.”

Some of those top-notch golfers have visited DAGA/First Tee of Miami at Melreese/International Links Golf Course in recent months, and they are amazed how the DAGA facility has grown with its own separate building, which is a headquarters for playing golf and also for homework, tutoring and guidance. “All the kids that have come back look around and say they would like to have it as it is now rather than when they were here.”

One of those kids is Tim Balmer, who joined the DAGA contingent when he was 13 or 14 and went on to become a successful golfer and person. He was named All-Dade three times and also made All-State.

“That place and people meant everything for me,” Balmer said of the Miami International facility and DeLucca.

“I have absolutely fond memories. The first shots I took were probably with Charlie DeLucca.”

DeLucca’s influence is wide-ranging. One of the “DeLucca Kids” is now a golf pro in China.

Taking all that into consideration, DeLucca is trying to arrange a reunion of the DAGA/First Tee kids, many of whom are now adults. No date has been set, but people can inquire and submit possible attendees at

Strafaci commits

Ty Strafaci, a more-than-noteworthy golfer on the Florida and national level who plays for Plantation American Heritage in Broward County, has orally agreed to attend Georgia Tech.

Barry’s No. 1 job

Barry University — the defending Division II national champion, the No. 1-ranked team this season and with the No. 1 player in Division II in Adam Svesson — will play in the May 5-7 South/Southeast Super Regional in Savannah, Ga., then Barry hopes to repeat as national champs May 19-23 in Allendale, Mich.

That’s a fact, Jack

The fastest round on the LPGA Tour was posted by Alice Miller, an eight-time LPGA winner. She completed her second round in the 1997 Welch’s/Circle K Championship in 1 hour 26 minutes 44 seconds.

Read more Golf stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category