For more than nine million children over the last 17 years, The First Tee has been an inspirational beacon for today’s teens. The program has chapters in all 50 states and several countries including Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. The aim of the organization’s 17,000 volunteers is to instill self-confidence; pride in oneself and one’s achievements; and The First Tee’s Nine Core Values:
In addition to these core values, The First Tee also stresses how crucial health and community are. The organization encourages members to develop these nine values:
To foster a better understanding of self discipline and fair play, The First Tee provides an environment where each member is accountable for his or her own actions. Every member must abide by the rules of golf, and leaders within the organization teach members that this also means doing what is right even when others are not watching or paying attention. In short, the group’s mission is to build character in young people through the game of golf.
Research indicates that the program is successful, and more than three-quarters of participants reported that they enjoyed better social interaction with their peers and adults in their lives. More than half told researchers that the program helped them recognize and respect diversity and helped them with important life skills, such as meeting new people courteously and enjoying building friendships. Nearly three-quarters credited the program with their new-found confidence in their ability to achieve academically. Nearly everyone reported having fun learning the game, working toward perfecting the golf swing, and enjoying time spent together with new friends. Through golf, The First Tee also attempts to develop healthy and active lifestyles for today’s children because they sometimes suffer from an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
The First Tee has five founding partners, all of whom are giants in the golf world. The PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, the Masters Golf Tournament, the PGA of America, and the USGA have all made unique contributions to The First Tee after helping found the organization. It also has two corporate sponsors: Johnson & Johnson and Shell Oil. Even with all this high-powered help, the organization benefits from the generous donations of individuals throughout the country and the world.
There are many ways people can help the organization. Other than a direct monetary gift, people can donate equipment, volunteer their time and talents and offer to match other gifts. It’s not only the kids that benefit either: people who volunteer for the organization feel fulfilled by making a difference in a child’s life. If they learn to swing a club along the way, so much the better.