2005: Feds support First Tee; group opens 200th facility

St. Augustine, Fla.

Corporate entities and leading golf organizations aren’t the only ones that will be contributing financially to The First Tee this year. Uncle Sam also will continue to play a role.

The First Tee in October will receive a $3 million appropriation from the Department of Justice, First Tee officials told Golfweek during an interview at the organization’s seventh annual meeting Feb. 15-18 at the World Golf Village.

The First Tee already has received federal funding of $4.5 million over the past two years from the Departments of Justice and Education.

“(The funds) are what I would describe as the last component of a full involvement of (all) the various entities in recognition of what we’re doing,” said Joe Louis Barrow Jr., The First Tee’s executive director. “They recognize the educational component of what we’re doing in the Life Skills Education and also recognize the impact we’re having on young people and their families.”

With just one year remaining for the completion of its Phase II five-year business plan, The First Tee is on pace to meet – and very likely exceed – its goal of introducing golf and the game’s core values to 500,000 young people through 250 First Tee facilities and 500 affiliates by 2006.

The First Tee opened 53 dedicated facilities and established 144 new affiliate relationships with existing golf courses during 2004. Through these portals, 155,000 children were introduced to a Life Skills program that teaches nine core values, such as responsibility, honesty, integrity and respect.

To date, The First Tee has opened 200 facilities and established 478 course affiliations. It currently operates 178 chapters in 39 states and four foreign countries, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In all, the program has introduced golf to 458,000 participants.

Barrow said Phase III of the program likely would span from 2006 to 2010. While he would not offer specifics, he noted that improving operational efficiency of the chapters and facilities would continue to be stressed, and that “much emphasis” would revolve around The First Tee’s National School Program, an initiative to teach golf in the nation’s schools through physical education curriculums.

That program, which completed a pilot study during the 2003-04 academic year, is expected to impact 150,000 students in 350 elementary schools in 26 markets during the 2004-05 school year. The First Tee’s goal is to reach 2 million students in 4,000 elementary schools by 2010.

“That is a key effort of Phase III, in the sense that we do anticipate taking that program into between 100 to 130 communities,” Barrow said.

In other news from the conference:

4The First Tee reports that cities, counties and states have combined to provide access to land – a contribution valued at approximately $125 million. The organization nationwide employs 850 full- and part-time staffers, and has 3,200 volunteers.

4From 2001 to 2004, 35 percent of First Tee participants were female, according to a profile of participants released by the organization. By comparison, the National Golf Foundation reports that 25 percent of all U.S. golfers are female.

4As part of an extended partnership with Wal-Mart, the number of First Tee participants at the Champions Tour’s Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach will increase this year to 30 from 20 during the inaugural event in 2004.




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