Mission Of The First Tee
What is The First Tee? The First Tee is an extremely well organized, well funded, international youth development organization supported by the leading organizations in golf. The First Tee is more than a youth initiatives or junior golf programs. It is more than a golf program for underprivileged kids. The First Tee teaches kids about golf, and it teaches them how to be a better member of the human race! A curriculum for teaching character education through specific life skills was developed by experts in the field of positive youth development for The First Tee. Life Skills Experience is one of the features that make The First Tee different. Through the Life Skills Experience, young people discover how skills essential to success on the golf course can also help them flourish in life. These skills are taught by Local Chapter-based coaches trained by The First Tee Coach Program. Kids who participate in The First Tee program learn to introduce themselves. They learn to manage their emotions. They learn to resolve conflict. They learn to set step-by-step goals. They also learn to plan for the future and to appreciate diversity.
The First Tee was started by The World Golf Foundation in 1997 to create affordable access for those not previously exposed to the game. Since that time, The First Tee has come a long way. The program has introduced golf and its values to over 2.2 million participants and has opened more than 260 golf-learning facilities. Affiliate relationships have been developed with over 800 golf courses that offer access and reduced rates for First Tee participants.
Youth as young as age 5 can start with the, off course, Target Outreach program where scoring is not a factor. This introduction to The First Tee program is 1-4 classes or hours and uses age appropriate equipment called SNAG (Starting New At Golf). The SNAG equipment makes the ball easy to hit and learning fun. A certificate of achievement is awarded participants as they move through the various First Tee Skills Experience Levels. A study has found that 83% of 2005 research participants returned to The First Tee program in 2006. Those result are impressive considering the average dropout rate in youth-serving organizations is 50%.
An example of how The First Tee blends learning golf skills and life skills is illustrated in Core Level 4 – Having Fun While You Learn. The primary message in Core Level 4 is that learning, whether its golf or an academic subject can be challenging, but the process will be more enjoyable if you have the right attitude and approach. Participants are taught three tips for having fun while learning – be patient, be positive, and ask for help.
The educational opportunities afforded through The First Tee are the subject for another article. I will however, mention two programs The First Tee has created. The first is the PACE (Providing Assistance for Careers and Education) Resource Center. Through PACE, eligible participants will learn, among other things, about applying for college, college scholarships, and career exploration. The First Tee National School Program was launched in 2004 to introduces children to the game of golf and The First Tee Nine Core Values during physical education classes through the use of SNAG equipment.
Should your child participate? The answer to that question is yours decision. However, what could be wrong with children learning the valuable lessons taught by The First Tee. In addition golf taught systematically by a trained coach is, in most cases, better than instruction given by a parent or grandparent with no formal training in golf instruction. With the coaches weaving golf and life skills simultaneously, the game of golf may be easier to learn.
Weather you choose The First Tee for your child or not….. take your kids to the golf course and PLAY GOLF! The First Tee will not teach your child to become golfers. They don’t have time. They will teach them grip, swing, stance and etiquette, but not how to develop a love for the game. Golf is a game that can only be learned by playing golf. Remember, golf is the only game where family members of all ages can enjoy a recreational experience together.
There are several First Tee programs in the Twin Cities Area. Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Three Rivers Park District, The National Sports Center in Blaine and the City of Rochester all have fine First Tee programs. For more information go to the following websites: