News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

September 27, 2008

On and Off the Course: Life’s lessons on the golf course

During the Ryder Cup last weekend, there aired a number of commercials for RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) that starred participants from The First Tee, a program founded by the World Golf Foundation to enable kids from every walk of life to participate in golf, a game that teaches values for life and can be played for a lifetime.

The mission of The First Tee is “to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character-development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.”

Created in November 1997, an initial goal was to have 100 golf-learning facilities in some form of development by the end of the year 2000, but its founders realized that there was a larger opportunity than just teaching the game of golf. Primary objectives became more involved in providing young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to develop, through golf and character education, values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship. Thus, The First Tee Life Skills Experience was born.

The First Tee is unique in that it teaches these lessons for life as part of the basic instruction program. A child cannot opt out of the life skills portion of while participating in The First Tee because these lessons are integrated into the physical instruction. These lessons for life are taught through various golf-related activities designed with the primary goal of having fun. Participants learn valuable lessons about the importance of keeping a positive attitude, how to make decisions by thinking about the possible consequences of ones’ actions, and how to set goals from the golf course to everyday life.

The First Tee wants all who complete its program to have acquired basic golf skills and to be able to demonstrate certain fundamental life skill concepts — such as communication skills and the importance of rules and etiquette. They are given a number of golf and life skills lessons and play a certain number of rounds on their chapter’s course. Participants go through a certification process with five general requirements: core lesson exposure, life skills application, golf skills application, life skills knowledge, and golf knowledge. The levels of certification are Par, Birdie, Eagle, and Ace.

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