By: Maxwell Van Vliet
While golf is a game that experienced a large period of growth over the last few decades, it is an expensive game to learn. With lesson prices steadily increasing, not all families can afford to have their son or daughter learn the game the correct way. First Tee of America set out in 1997 as a partner of the PGA to try to lower the cost of a golf lesson. According to their history, First Tee didn’t always have the goal of strengthening life skills. Reflecting on the beginning of the organization, First Tee said, “We knew we were opening access to the game. What we discovered was that we were also opening access to powerful personal growth” (https://firsttee.org/about/). Once they made this discovery, First Tee began to incorporate the study of life skills into their curriculum of golf skills.
First Tee prides itself on teaching the core values found within the game of golf that are also vital for success in life as a whole. Those values include: honesty, integrity, perseverance and respect. While the nonprofit started by just teaching their curriculum on the golf course, they have, “Expanded by bringing the program to physical education classes across the country through in-school and after-school programs” (https://firsttee.org/programs/). What started out as a small organization hoping to help children learn golf, soon became a worldwide organization aimed at helping children become better people.
Locally, there is a First Tee of West Michigan. While their main office is located at 3450 36th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512, they visit many different golf courses, elementary schools, and community centers around the area. This local chapter has bettered the lives of so many children over the years. When asked about his experience with First Tee of West Michigan, alumni Luke Boldt said “Because of First Tee, I have been given opportunities that have molded me into a successful leader and role model. I am inspired to make an impact on this world that is far greater than what the world expects of me.” While this is just the experience of one young man, this has been a very common experience for most others who have participated in the organization.
According to (https://firstteewestmichigan.org/programs-2/), students who are eligible for the free or reduced price lunch (FRPL) program at school or their family has been financially impacted due to COVID-19, can enroll at the scholarship rate of $5 per six-class session. Otherwise the cost is $80 per six-class session for full-price students. Even the full price cost for First Tee is well below the average cost for a standard six-class session in West Michigan, which usually runs a family around $500. First Tee originally set out to make children better golfers. The nonprofit organization has not only done that, but more importantly they helped children form values that will help them over the course of their whole life.