The First Tee of Phoenix
For a moment, imagine the ultimate classroom – lush fairways, greenside bunkers and inspiring teachers, or in their case coaches…for participants of The First Tee of Phoenix, this is their oasis of knowledge.
The First Tee was created on a national level in 1997 by golf’s founders – the USGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America and LPGA – to make golf accessible to young people of all backgrounds. In 2003 The First Tee of Phoenix was implemented by the Thunderbirds and the Waste Management Phoenix Open with that same mission and goal, specifically for Maricopa County.
Today, this not-for-profit organization has evolved into a powerful youth development program that teaches kids life-enhancing values through the game of golf. Honesty, responsibility, courtesy and respect are just a few of the nine core values that are seamlessly incorporated into lessons through The First Tee Life Skills Experience.
Here in the Valley, The First Tee of Phoenix is one of the most active chapters in the nation, with five full-time programming facilities. They include: South Mountain Facility, a 9-hole, Fazio- designed short course that is owned and operated by The First Tee of Phoenix; Desert Mirage Golf Course in Glendale; Papago Golf Course in central Phoenix; Longbow Golf Club in Mesa; and, Falcon Dunes Golf Course, which is supported by Luke Air Force Base and serves as a military affiliate program.
The organization also has more than 140 schools in five school districts involved in its National Schools Program. Through NSP, physical education teachers are trained to conduct golf and life skills programming in schools. Additionally, The First Tee of Phoenix partners with groups like Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, Boys Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America and many others, through special outreach programs that impact more than 70,000 young people, ages 4 through 17, each year. Together these youngsters are discovering how the skills for success on the golf course can help them flourish in life and help them become better sons, daughters, students and people – reinforcing what they learn at home, or in some cases don’t.
At the helm of The First Tee of Phoenix is Executive Director Hugh Smith, Jr. With a support staff of highly trained youth development coaches and golf enthusiasts, and with the support of volunteers and allied organizations like the AGA, AWGA, JGAA and SWSPGA, the organization is having a positive impact on the game while enjoying one of the highest retention rates in the nation at 84 percent.
There is no greater reward than watching youth of limited economic opportunity realize that other people want to open up a whole new world to them. If you would like to get involved with The First Tee of Phoenix, there are many ways you can do so.
Volunteer. Opportunity abounds to volunteer with The First Tee of Phoenix. Volunteer during regular programming or as a scorekeeper/ official at monthly golf tournaments. You can also chaperone monthly non-golf related activities like trips to the Arizona Science Museum, ice skating, bowling, on a camp out, to a Phoenix Suns or Arizona Diamondbacks game, or help out at St. Mary’s Food Bank or the Susan G. Komen race.
Donate golf equipment. Donate used or new equipment like shoes, balls, clubs, bags, clothes and more.
Donate money. Like any non-profit, a monetary donation to The First Tee of Phoenix scholarship fund is always appreciated.
For more information on The First Tee of Phoenix, visit www.thefirstteephoenix.org or call 602.305.7655. The First Tee…impacting our future and the future of the game…today.