The game of golf has been passed down from generation to generation for more than five centuries to reach the level it is today. One group is stepping up to ensure that tradition continues.
The First Tee, a national youth development program designed to impact the lives of youngsters through the game of golf, has connected with more than 15 million children since its inception in 1997. The First Tee’s aim is to introduce the game to kids at a critical point in their lives, teaching golf skills as well as life skills like integrity, respect, courtesy and confidence.
Reaching more than 5 million children annually in all 50 states, The First Tee works with more than 10,000 elementary schools across the country. The 150 national chapters (plus six new international chapters) work with more than 1,300 youth recreation centers and 1,200 golf courses, giving kids a chance to learn the sport and develop a life-long love for the game of golf.
The First Tee also involves countless volunteers and corporate partners to host special events and golf outings designed to spark kids’ interest in the game. The addition of two big names – The Golf Channel as its media partner and former President George W. Bush as its Honorary Chairman – has allowed The First Tee to rapidly expand its impact and continue its worthy mission.
The First Tee has a major presence on the Grand Strand, where more than 800 children are directly involved with the program and more than 10,000 students are exposed to The First Tee through physical education classes at area school. Following a recent merger with two chapters in North Carolina, the First Tee’s local and regional impact has increased significantly in the area.
Myrtle Beach area golf courses have also chipped in to support The First Tee program’s goals, most notably the Kids Play Free special. Offered at more than 50 courses on the Grand Strand, children ages 16 and under can play for free with a paid adult round. The Kids Play Free program is the perfect way to introduce a youngster to the sport and teach them the values of the game.
Participating courses include Aberdeen Country Club, Arcadian Shores, Arrowhead, Azalea Sands, Blackmoor, Carolina National, Crow Creek, Crown Park, Diamondback, Glen Dornoch, Grande Dunes, International Club, Litchfield Country Club, Long Bay, Myrtle Beach National (Kings North and South Creek), Myrtlewood (Pine Hills), Pawleys Plantation, Pine Lakes International, Possum Trot, Prestwick, River Club, River Hills, River Oaks, Rivers Edge, Sandpiper Bay, Sea Trail (Byrd), Shaftesbury Glen, Thistle, Tidewater, TPC Myrtle Beach, Tradition Club, The Valley at Eastport, Wachesaw East, Wild Wing (Avocet), and World Tour.
Several other courses offer discounted play for kids, including Barefoot Resort (Dye, Fazio, Love and Norman), Caledonia, Legends (Heathland, Moorland and Parkland), Heritage, Big Cats (Leopards Chase, LionÌs Paw, Panthers Run and Tigerís Eye), Man O’War, Oyster Bay, Pearl (East and West) and True Blue.
The First Tee also sponsors such programs as the Leadership and Life Skills Academy, where golfers ages 7 through 18 are chosen to participate in a curriculum of topics both on and off the course. Under the direction of directors and volunteer coaches from the local golf community, students learn about the rules of the game as well as The First Tee’s nine core values.
To get involved as a coach or as a parent to put your child in the program, contact your local chapter of The First Tee (www.thefirsttee.org) and help pass the game on to the next generation.