With summer camps right around the corner and the number of registrations growing each day, I wanted to discuss a question that is often asked: “Is my teenager too old to start The First Tee?”
The short answer, and what you’ll hear from anyone passionate about our mission, is “absolutely not.” The First Tee of Greater Charlotte requires that every child, new to the program, must begin at the PLAYer Level. Now, I must mention that the majority of participants in this PLAYer level are 9 years-old to about 12 years-old. Ask any freshman in high school if they want to hang out with 5th graders after school, and I guarantee they’ll say “no way.” So, you can understand why there may be a struggle between kids and their parents on whether or not to join as a teenager.
There are countless and convicting reasons why a young person of any age should join our life changing program. Scholarships, leadership academies, and playing opportunities at exclusive locations like Pebble Beach are just scratching the surface of what The First Tee truly offers – core values lessons and life-long skills. What kid, or person in general, wouldn’t benefit from a confidence-boosting, integrity-oriented program? Not to mention, it’s exceedingly fun AND you can work on your golf game, too.
To really grasp a true perspective and to answer this question (much better than I can), I’ll let this excerpt from Caroline Cole’s recent essay explain.
“This is me on my first day of the Player level class (see picture). The Player level is where everyone starts. It is funny my mom took this picture. You all can see my overwhelming enthusiasm runneth-over at the prospect of learning that I was at least 25 years older – ok 7 years older – than the other “children” in the class. In kid years, it seemed like a really big difference.
This very first class – on that very first day – provided my first of many inspirational moments at The First Tee. It was on that day (with my attitude not completely in check) that a younger participant slipped his hand in mine. I was headed to the practice area, and he asked if I would help him learn to putt. He had been watching me earlier, and I remember the excitement in his eyes and voice when he saw me sink a 6-foot putt. In that same moment when we were holding hands, he told me that no one liked him. I knew that feeling, but I couldn’t imagine that no one liked him. We talked and practiced putting all afternoon. At the end of that day, we both had someone that liked us.
I have been lucky enough over the last 2 and half years to meet some amazing people and to have some dream come true kind of experiences by being involved in The First Tee. I’ve been an honorary observer at the Wells Fargo golf tournament and met top-ranked professional golfers. I am an honored recipient of the Isaac B. Grainger scholarship, and this summer, I will attend the Pinehurst Junior Golf Academy. I will also continue to serve as a junior coach and camp counselor this summer.
So, if you want to be inspired, join The First Tee in holding hands. You will not only change the lives of its participants, but your own life will be made better. Hold hands. Oh, and remember you are never too old to enroll in the PLAYER class.”
Caroline Cole is now an Ace Level Participant since joining The First Tee of Greater Charlotte almost 3 years ago. She was recently selected to attend The First Tee Life Skills & Leadership Academy this summer.
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