Originally created 03/11/01

Life's lessons start on `The First Tee'



THE RIBBON will be cut April 2 for an exciting project for our community's youth - The First Tee Augusta.

This golf and training facility, located on Damascus Road, is a national initiative started by the World Golf Foundation. Former President Bush is honorary chairman and the organization enjoys support from all major golf associations, including the Professional Golf Association, Ladies Professional Golf Association and United States Golf Association. It is also supported by the Augusta National Golf Club.

First Tee chapters are being organized throughout the country and some are already in operation.

THE AUGUSTA chapter was created in early 1999, and planning and building the golf course and training facility soon began.

We have received tremendous support from the Augusta community. The City of Augusta provided 40 acres on Damascus Road adjacent to Daniel Field Airport and the city-owned golf course. This property was formerly the location of the Golf Park apartments. It is difficult to describe the change for the better that has been made there.

Many others have contributed cash and in-kind donations and these have been most gratefully received. The in-kind donations have included architectural and engineering plans and renderings, a truck and golf equipment, building materials and construction labor. All contributors will be recognized on a donor wall in the training facility building.

The objective of the National First Tee organization is to make golf more accessible to people of all economic and social strata, particularly children, with special emphasis on those who cannot afford to learn and play the game.

GOLF OFFERS many excellent lessons in that it teaches honesty, integrity, sportsmanship and self-discipline. The First Tee Augusta's curriculum will provide classroom instruction on quality-of-life subjects and career opportunities. Children in the program will receive both group and individual golf instruction from our PGA professionals.

In order for The First Tee Augusta to reach its full potential, we need the support of the local community, which is why we are now seeking annual sponsorships for the youth in the program. The cost to sponsor a child and become a "Special Friend of First Tee" is $1,000 per child. Members of "Special Friends of First Tee" will be invited to participate in a golf tournament to be held March 30 at The First Tee. Those who want to support The First Tee program, but not at the Special Friends level are encouraged to contribute and will be recognized as "Friends of First Tee."

In order to raise sufficient funds to have a successful operation, Masters week each year will be a week of fund raising. This year, in conjunction with the ribbon cutting, we will have a Sconyers' barbecue dinner and invite as guests some of the golfers who are participating in this year's Masters tournament. Plans include a silent auction and other activities that promise to make this a fun evening. Tickets are now being sold for $50. Information regarding this event may be obtained by calling 442-4444, ext. 1833.

While our emphasis at The First Tee Augusta will be children's golf, the course and driving range will be available for adult play. We have six golf holes that can be played as a nine-hole course. In addition to tax deductible contributions, other sources of revenue include adult and children's green fees, golf cart rental, driving range income, and pro shop sales and concession sales. The course will open for play Tuesday April 3. To reserve a tee time during Masters week, call 364-GOLF (364-4653) after March 16.

PLEASE JOIN us in supporting this worthwhile cause as a sponsor, a contributor or as a volunteer, and by attending the fund raising barbecue dinner on April 2. Fore! Augusta Foundation, the operator of The First Tee Augusta, is a 501C3 corporation. Tax-free contributions may be mailed to The First Tee, One Tenth Street Suite 340, Augusta, GA 30901.

Remember, life's lessons start on the first tee.

(Editor's note: The author, is chairman of Fore! Augusta Foundation, and is the former president of Morris Communications Corporation.)