Annika Sorenstam Tees Up Students for Success at Future Leaders Forum

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 20, 2011 – Fifty high-school students from The First Tee are getting their head in the game today at the fifth annual Future Leaders Forum sponsored by The Toro Company and Walt Disney World Resort. The three-day event is designed to help students broaden leadership skills, prepare for college, and explore career disciplines within the golf industry.

Learning how lessons from the game of golf have real-life applications, participants are gaining insights from World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam and other industry leaders. Sorenstam, also the spokesperson for The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits, is leading participants in an interactive session highlighting the importance of incorporating healthy choices into all areas of their lives. The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits is a collaborative effort among The First Tee, ANNIKA Foundation and Florida Hospital for Children to promote healthy, active lifestyles for young people.

“The First Tee is proud to have Annika as a part of this year’s event,” said Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., chief executive officer of The First Tee. “These participants will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to network and learn from some of the most talented professionals in golf and business, thanks to the generosity of The Toro Company and Walt Disney World Resort. Together we are helping create the next generation of leaders.”

Selected students will also participate in “Disney’s Leadership Excellence: The Inside Track” that teaches the leadership strategies, techniques and behaviors of successful Walt Disney World leaders.  Additionally, the Forum connects students with industry experts to learn about careers in tournament operations, golf course management, broadcast media, marketing and hospitality. The program includes presentations from Disney Institute, Toro, PGA of America, The Golf Channel, Marriott Golf and The Children’s Miracle Network, along with a behind-the-scenes look at a PGA Tour tournament.

“With Toro’s strong commitment to growing the game, this program has connected young leaders with professionals in the industry to better understand the business of golf and the role they play in ensuring the game’s future success,” said Mike Hoffman, chairman and CEO of The Toro Company.  “This year’s class of participants are developing leaders in their communities, and we are excited to collaborate with The First Tee and Walt Disney World in this unique learning experience.”

The application process included an essay on goals, career aspirations and post-high school plans; community and chapter involvement; and a letter of recommendation from school faculty and The First Tee Chapter Executive Director.

Since 1998, The Toro Company has been a premier corporate partner and preferred supplier of golf course maintenance and irrigation equipment for The First Tee. Toro is also the official provider of turf and irrigation equipment for Walt Disney World Resort.

For more information, visit www.futureleadersforum.com.