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Gregory McLaughlin – President
Jennifer Weiler – Senior Vice President, Network Relations
Guy Garbarino, Vice President, Advancement
Jane Fader – Vice President, Communication & Marketing
The First Tee has been golf’s most influential youth development program for more than two decades, using the platform of golf to offer character education and long-term life skills to kids and teenagers.
The nonprofit organization was introduced in 1997 through a partnership among the PGA TOUR, USGA, LPGA, PGA of America and the Masters Tournament, starting out as a way to bring affordable junior golf to communities without such programs, particularly economically disadvantaged areas.
Soon after its inception, leaders of the First Tee discovered that by blending life and leadership skills with the rules of golf, youngsters and teenagers learned important values in addition to how to putt and hit a driver. Today, the First Tee’s mission is to provide youth with educational programs that build character, instill these life lessons and promote healthy choices – all through the game of golf.
“The mission of the First Tee goes far beyond growing the game of golf,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, who is Chairman of the First Tee Board of Governors. “More importantly, its focus is on being an industry leader in the areas of education and youth development.”
Reaching more than 3 million kids annually, the First Tee shapes its experiences by introducing its Nine Core Values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. Over the past 22 years, it’s helped millions of kids and teenagers develop the values and life skills that extend well beyond the golf course.
“The values they learn, which are inherent to the sport of golf, will result not only in a better life for themselves but a better society for all of us,” First Tee President Greg McLaughlin said.
The organization’s programs are delivered at golf courses, elementary schools and youth centers in all 50 U.S. states that provide access to clubs and balls in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. The First Tee is also expanding globally and offers programs at six international locations.
The First Tee’s mission is dependent on its network, including dedicated volunteers, coaches and physical educators who deliver the programs, the chapter staff, board members and school administrators who provide leadership, and the individuals and corporations who provide resources.
“I am inspired by the passion I see daily throughout the First Tee, from the local chapters and facilities to the participants and team at the national headquarters,” Monahan said.
The First Tee National School Program has been introduced to over 10,000 schools while First Tee Drive has been introduced in more than 1,300 after school locations. There are 150 chapters, 30 with learning centers, and programming locations at more than 1,200 golf facilities.
The First Tee may have started at the golf course, but it quickly realized its values extend far beyond the fairways and greens. It’s why the organization launched both in-school and after-school programs for youth and now reaches more than 5 million kids a year.
The First Tee National School Program was started in 2004, bringing the core values (and the sport of golf) to gym classes in elementary schools around the country. In 2012, an after-school program called The First Tee DRIVE was launched to cater to youth participating in organizations such as the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
In terms of overall impact, The First Tee remains one of the preeminent and most influential youth golf development programs in the industry.