The First Tee National School Program is now in 5,700 schools across the U.S. The goal of the program is to give school districts the tools to incorporate golf techniques, character values and health lessons into their PE curriculums.
All 36 Richmond County elementary schools, along with three in Burke County, will get modified golf equipment made for children and lesson plan materials paid for by Georgia Power to begin using this school year, according to First Tee of Augusta Executive Director Jill Brown.
“There are some basic core values associated with playing the game of golf – like honesty, integrity, respect and responsibility – that we really hope can help them understand what they can achieve,” Brown said Monday.
Brown said the hope is to give children early exposure to the sport through this program in school and for them to join First Tee of Augusta to advance through higher levels. The First Tee, launched locally in 2001, offers after school programming, camps and tournaments to about 500 children a year ages 8 to 18.
Physical education teachers received training Monday from First Tee of Augusta on basic golf techniques – putting, chipping, proper stance and how to grip a club. They also reviewed lesson plans and curriculum materials on how to weave character lessons into the golf instruction.
Deerchase Elementary School PE teacher Maureen Rosenberger said the golf element will be another tool to help children build confidence along with learning a new skill.
She said students will receive lessons in honesty and character through the sport.
“It gives children another outlook and another avenue in the community,” Rosenberger said. “When you excel in something in school and have a positive experience with it, there is somewhere you can take that outside of school.”
Teachers can choose to weave the golf instruction into the regular curriculum where they see fit, along with jump rope, basketball, football, volleyball and other sports taught at the elementary level, according to Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction Stacey Mabray.
It falls in line with the “lifetime sports” taught in Georgia, which are skills children can use through many phases of physical ability, unlike football or more intensive sports.
Although Georgia Power representatives could not provide a funding amount for the program, Mabray said the equipment and materials donated will make it sustainable for years.
Georgia Power’s parent company, Southern Co., plans to help implement the First Tee National Schools Program in 1,000 schools over the next five years, according to spokeswoman Jeannice Hall.
“Golf really is a great way for kids to get outside and really be active in a focused way,” Mabray said. “We’re talking about them not only being able to utilize their (bodies) but the scoring is math – so I see it bringing together a lot of things they’re learning.”