Sports are a great way to teach kids about life lessons such as winning and losing, hard work, dealing with adversity and more.
The First Tee Central of Mississippi is a way for kids to learn lessons using the program’s “Nine Core Values” of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility and perseverance. Golf is a unique sport in that players are supposed to call penalties on themselves, fix the field of play, including replacing divots of grass that the club cuts out of the ground, follow a certain etiquette on the course, keep score and more.
The First Tee national program started in 1997 with a partnership between the LPGA, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour, the USGA and the Masters Tournament to get more kids playing golf by starting affordable junior golf programs.
With a need to grow the game and get kids interested in golf, those partners came up with The First Tee program. The organization blended learning the rules of the game with life lessons from its Nine Core Values.
In June 2008, The First Tee of The Pine Belt was established after a four-year quest to bring the national program to Mississippi. The journey of The First Tee of Central Mississippi started in June 2015. It became an official The First Tee program on March 30, 2017.
The First Tee of Central Mississippi held a press conference at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum on April 13, to make the formal announcement of First Tee becoming an official program in central Mississippi.
This program will serve Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties. Four golf courses, The Refuge Golf Course, LeFleur’s Bluff Golf Course, Grove Park Golf Course and Sonny Guy Municipal Golf Course are the first courses to join the program.
Now that the program is a part of The First Tee organization, the program is hitting the ground running. On June 1, a nine-week summer program is starting at the four golf courses, and www.thefirstteecentralmississippi.org will have information on signing up.
The First Tee of Central Mississippi is open to kids from ages 7 to 18. The program is going to partner up with physical-education teachers in the area to begin teaching kids about the game of golf and work with local afterschool programs such as the YMCA to help teach.
Lisa Hill, who is the program director, explained at the press conference that volunteers, equipment, donations and giving time are needed to help the program be successful. The First Tee of Central Mississippi is a nonprofit program.
For more information, visit the website, www.thefirsteecentralmississippi.org. The program is on Facebook (The First Tee of Central Mississippi), Instagram (@TheFirstTeeCentalMS), Snapchat (@TheFirstTeeMS) and Twitter (@TheFirstTeeCentralMS).