In golf, the first tee represents new beginnings.
The First Tee of Indiana, a program designed to introduce children ages 8 to 18 the game of golf while emphasizing the importance of core values and healthy habits, does, also.
This morning, the Golf Channel will televise a segment on the First Tee of Indiana on its Morning Drive program, starting at 7 a.m. The show runs until 9 a.m. The First Tee is headed by Roger Lundy, the Franklin College women’s golf coach since 2007.
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A part of the Indiana Golf Foundation since 2012, The First Tee is in 12 communities throughout the state and about 65,000 children are currently involved.
“It’s a youth development program that builds character through the nine core values and the nine healthy habits,” Lundy said. “We just use the game of golf to teach those values and about how to use them in everyday life.”
The core values are integrity, confidence, respect, courtesy, judgment, honesty, sportsmanship, responsibility and perseverance. These values are traditionally associated with participation in the sport of golf.
Lundy lists the nine healthy habits as safety, play, energy, family, school, community, friends, mind and vision.
First Tee instructors make it a point to emphasize these core values — usually one per week if it’s a nine-week course while teaching.
Clinic costs vary on the location and that area’s demographics. For instance, Columbus charges $75 for an eight-week session; Richmond $50; and Valparaiso $110. Lessons are typically given in groups of between 6 and 20 students, depending on instructor availability.
“If a kid can only afford $25 or $5, or even if they can’t afford anything, we won’t turn away a kid,” said Mike David, Executive Director of the Indiana PGA Section.
Lundy said he feels teaching kids how to apply lessons taught in golf to everyday life is beneficial for that individual and the family while helping grow the sport of golf.
“It carries into all facets of life. It’s not just about golf etiquette,” said Lundy, who is based at Gongaware Junior Golf Academy in Franklin. “We’re trying to turn out good human beings.
“They don’t have to be great golfers.”
The Golf Channel devoting programming time to the Indiana PGA Section and the work it does with The First Tee of Indiana is part of the PGA of America’s Centennial Celebration in 2016.
David said as recently as 2014 The First Tee of Indiana reached approximately 24,000 kids, or a little more than a third of those now reached.
“We actually got involved in it late in 2012. We’re fairly new to First Tee both in Johnson County and the state, but we’ve had some great progress from a growth standpoint,” David said. “I think the timing is very good for the growth we’ve seen, and I expect that to continue.”
The PGA of American has teamed with the Golf Channel to profile all 41 PGA Sections and the programs they offer.
In the case of The First Tee of Indiana, it offers a National School Program, which trains physical educators to introduce elementary-aged children to golf, the nine core values and nine healthy habits.
Elementary schools currently taking part are Northwood, Creekside, Webb, Union and Needham.
Cost to run a chapter usually ranges from $150,000 to $200,000 annually. The money is raised locally.
In the spring of 2015 The First Tee expanded internationally by creating an office in Japan to go along with the non-profit’s presence in China, Chile and Guatemala.
FIRST TEE OF INDIANA
What: A youth development organization introducing the game of golf and its inherent values to young people ages 8 to 18.
Locations: Bloomington, Columbus, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Franklin, French Lick, Indianapolis, Michiana, Peru, Richmond, South Central, Southeastern.
Address: Indiana Golf Office, P.O. Box 516, Franklin, IN 46131
Contact: Roger Lundy at (800) 779-7271