The mission of The First Tee is to introduce as many young people as possible to not only the game of golf but also its inherent life lessons and core values. The Charlotte chapter has done just that through the expansion of its outreach program. In 2016, The First Tee of Greater Charlotte reached over 120,000 new participants through elementary schools, after school programs, and field trips, making it the second largest outreach program in The First Tee network.
Golf can be an intimidating sport for those who have never picked up a club before, so The First Tee found that by making it simple and fun for children who are not actively seeking to participate is a great way to make it a more attainable reality. This is done three ways; The First Tee National School Program, The First Tee DRIVE Program and Target Outreach events. Participants can either take field trips to our learning center at Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course or we bring the golf course to the participants at local gyms and recreation centers.
The First Tee National School Program is conducted through local elementary schools and physical education classes. The physical education teachers are trained to deliver The First Tee curriculum-including The First Tee Nine Core Values and The First Tee Hine Healthy Habits-in their gym classes. The program features specialized equipment and a specialized curriculum that fits perfectly into their yearly schedule. Similarly, The First Tee DRIVE Program trains youth leaders at various after school and community programs to teach participants at those programs and incorporate the core values and healthy habits into instruction. Combined, these two outreach programs reached nearly 120,000 youth in the Greater Charlotte area in 2016.
Target Outreach is another form of outreach at The First Tee where local programs from the Charlotte area take field trips to the learning center at The Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course to learn from our instructors and use our facilities. As our outreach programs have expanded, there are an average of three outreach field trips to our Learning Center each week. In 2016, nearly 3,000 participants were reached through target outreach in which 26 different organizations took field trips to the learning center. Programs that participate in target outreach events include YWCA chapters, the Greater Enrichment Program, Freedom School Partners, elementary schools, and various summer enrichment programs and church groups.
Participants, who most often have never picked up a golf club, learn the fundamentals of putting and chipping using oversized, colorful plastic clubs that make golf less intimidating and more fun for beginners. By the end of the session participants already see improvement and the idea of learning to play golf is more feasible now that they have a basic grasp on the sport. Outreach programs often utilize skills from sports that youth are often already exposed to, like soccer and baseball, to teach participants about golf and make it more relatable. Golf Baseball is a favorite! In addition to learning how to hit golf shots, participants also focus on The First Tee’s Nine Core Values and Nine Healthy Habits. Some of the main concepts that participants take away from outreach programs are boosting confidence, how to work with others, respect for others and equipment, and following directions.
The First Tee of Greater Charlotte’s impact doesn’t stop at its participants, but extends into the direct community and schools of the Charlotte area. Through outreach programs in schools and community programs, The First Tee of Greater Charlotte has proved successful in expanding its reach and exposing more youth to the game of golf and the life skills it teaches.