First Tee – Canada Set To Launch Soon In Alberta
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2023-06-07
By Gord Montgomery, Inside Golf
EDMONTON, Alberta — A program designed to not only teach children about golf but also about life skills is close to teeing off in Alberta.
First Tee is Golf Canada’s youth development program that provides children with life-enhancing experiences through golf. First Tee – Canada offers accessible and inclusive programming at golf courses, schools, and community centres, striving to ensure that the sport of golf reflects the diversity of Canadians.
The First Tee, which originally started in the U.S. and is now in every Canadian province with the exception of Alberta, is a step closer to full-nation coverage. Hope is that it should hit the ground running in Alberta during the 2023 golf season. That’s the word coming from Adam Hunter, Golf Canada’s Director, Grow the Game, who was in Edmonton recently for the inaugural Jeff Collier Pro-Am. The idea behind that tournament, sponsored by Jeff Sveen of Play Golf Alberta and a longtime supporter of junior golf, was to showcase First Tee’s program to local golf professionals and also to raise funds to foster First Tee – Alberta’s growth.
In speaking to how this program came to be in Canada, Hunter explained, “We partnered with First Tee (United States) in 2020 and we’re striving to ensure the program is available to children from all backgrounds across the country. Launching First Tee – Alberta and continuing to grow across Canada is a priority for us. We want every child in Alberta to have the opportunity to play golf, especially those who wouldn’t think of golf as an option for them.”
Hunter went on to explain that First Tee is more than just a learn-to-play program. Rather, it’s as much about interpersonal and social skills as anything.
“First Tee uses golf as a vehicle to deliver transformational life skills and provide environments where children aged five to 18 feel empowered to grow, safe to fail, and prepared for whatever comes their way on and off the course.”
Interestingly enough, First Tee – Canada will join forces with another youth golf program in Alberta, Youth on Course (YOC), that makes golf more affordable by offering children subsidized rounds of $5 or less at participating courses. Hunter noted that work has been done to partner with the province’s governing amateur golf body, Alberta Golf, which is one of the nation’s leaders of the YOC idea, and that relationship is working well.
“Youth on Course launched in 2018 in Alberta and we’ve used it as an important complement to what we’re doing through First Tee.”
First Tee – Canada is a follow-up to the popular Golf in Schools program that was introduced by Golf Canada a number of years ago. Hunter pointed out that the previous program was operational in 4,300 schools across the country as an introduction to the game for kids of varying ages.
“We are striving to ensure our work is not lost in those schools. First Tee is offered at schools, community centres, and golf courses. We supply modified and age-appropriate equipment, turn-key lessons, and training for instructors. We are working towards transitioning those previous schools to now offer First Tee.”
In order to get First Tee fully launched in Alberta, funds need to be raised.
“Our colleagues at the Golf Canada Foundation are currently working hard to secure a chapter-founding gift, enabling the launch of the program in the province of Alberta. After that, we’ll proceed to hire staff on the ground to operationalize the program in communities across the province. That’s step one securing that significant donor.”
In closing, Hunter reiterated the premise behind launching this worthwhile program aimed at bringing new players into the game from all walks of life.
“We view First Tee – Canada as our primary vehicle to ensure the sport of golf more closely resembles the strength of multi-cultural Canada. It’s important for us to engage with children that normally wouldn’t think about golf as an option and we are using our resources to engage with equity-deserving groups and communities to build those relationships. Success doesn’t happen overnight and we know this is a long-term goal. We’ve put together very mission-driven staff across the country and we’re seeing tremendous success and growth thus far.”
Hunter thanked Sveen and his fundraising efforts to get First Tee – Alberta launched.