The golf legend of Tom Kimball lives on, and one of the primary sources of the memories of “TK” is Ron Bibeau, executive director of First Tee of Maine.

This is not just because the Maine State Golf Association presented Bibeau with the 2013 Tom Kimball Award on Monday night, but because Bibeau and Kimball, who died at age 57 in March 2009, were close friends — and a lot alike.

“He was definitely one of my mentors,” said Bibeau, who was surprised when he received the award during MSGA’s annual Junior Scholarship banquet at ValHalla. “We became very close when I was the pro at Martindale and he was golf coach at Edward Little High School. TK was a super individual.”

“He is sadly missed,” said Nancy Storey, executive director of the MSGA. “I’ve never seen anybody who could get through to a kid like TK. He was taken from us too soon.”

Before retiring, Kimball spent 20 years in the Auburn school district teaching English at Walton School and Edward Little High School. He was a graduate of Cheverus High School in Portland and the University of Maine in Orono. To all who knew Kimball, who became the MSGA junior tournament coordinator in 2000, he was a very special individual.

“He was always thinking about the kids.” Bibeau said. “This award is the highlight of my year. It is something I will remember the rest of my life.”

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The success of the 2013 First Tee summer programs also has been a highlight of Bibeau’s year. He estimates that the summer programs have reached more than 500 children, along with the 15,000 school participants during the 2012-13 academic year. Bibeau, one of Maine golf’s great people persons, is in his second season as First Tee executive director, and as evidenced by the numbers, the program has flourished during that relatively short period of time.

One of several First Tee summer outreach innovations is at Camp Sunshine, where a seven-hole golf course was set up on the camp’s soccer field. Approximately 15 youngsters used SNAG (Starting New At Golf) equipment, which includes plastic clubs and foam balls.

“I can’t explain to you how rewarding those days are,” Bibeau said of working with Camp Sunshine’s children with life-threatening illnesses. “And watching those kids have a positive experience and putting smiles on their faces is extremely gratifying.”

People who have seen these programs in action are in agreement that Bibeau’s gratification is exceeded only by the golf pleasures afforded to the thousands of children that First Tee has touched.

Noteworthy

Past Tom Kimball Award winners are: Meghan Bickford (2012), Brian Bickford (2011), Emily Bouchard (2010), and Brandon Wohl (2009) … At Monday’s Maine Chapter New England PGA Pro-Junior Foursome Tournament, the Prospect Hill quartet of head pro Chad Hopkins, Chad Prince, Michael Glazier and Adam White won the team competition. Hopkins is head pro at Prospect Hill and runs the Hopkins Golf School at Prospect Hill, Apple Valley, The Meadows and Cobbossee Colony. Prince and Glazier are on the Gardiner High School golf team and White is a seventh-grader at St. Dominic’s Academy … The Maine State Golf Association will conduct a weekly senior tour competition tomorrow at Point Sebago. One of its eight “mid-week specials” will be Tuesday at Waterville, followed by its weekly Friday-Saturday event at Penobscot Valley … The New England Junior Championship is Wednesday through Friday at Connecticut National in Putnam, Conn. … The MSGA has added two events to its 17-event Senior Tour, both in the Bangor area. Aug. 19 a senior tournament will be held at Bangor Municipal, and Sept. 9 a second one will be played at Penobscot Valley. Information on both is available by telephoning 829-3549, or by emailing tournament director Emily Bouchard at [email protected]


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