In 2000 I had the opportunity to attend the National Golf Foundation meeting in St. Augustine where I was introduced to Joe Louis Barrow Jr. That’s right, the son of the great heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis who also was an avid golfer. Mr. Barrow became the Chief Executive Officer of The First Tee, an initiative started by the Foundation with support from the PGA of America , USGA, LPGA and the PGA Tour with financial backing from Shell Oil. The idea of The First Tee was to introduce golf to the youth of the world by making it fun and at the same time build character using key positive values. First Tee organizations sprung up throughout the country, but not until 2012 did Central Florida start it’s at Hunters Creek Golf Club.
Just 2 months ago Integrity Golf Management signed a long term lease with Hunter’s Creek and they and their affiliate company, Celebration Golf Management (CGM) LLC, which collectively operate 18 golf courses around the area, have signed an agreement with The First Tee of Central Florida to serve as the golf course provider for First Tee’s programming beginning June 1.
Kenny Nairn, Chief Operating Officer at CGM, said that in addition to Hunter’s Creek, the roll out of the First Tee ‘s Life Skills Experience Program for youngsters 7-17 years old would be expanded to their other courses on a periodic basis. The following is the beginning stages of the rollout.
- Metro West Golf Club in Southwest Orlando, summer 2014.
- Stoneybrook West Golf Club In Winter Garden, fall 2014.
- Mayfair Golf Club in Sanford, Seminole County, winter 2014-15.
- Kissimmee Golf Club in Osceola County, winter 2014-15.
- Kings Ridge Golf Club in Clermont, Lake County, spring 2015.
- Eagle Creek Golf Club in Lake Nona, fall 2015.
The 1st Tee of Central Florida is a youth development organization that uses golf as a tool to teach young people positive values inherent in the game such as honesty, integrity, sportsmanship and confidence.
“We must have outstanding community partners to really make a lasting impression on the lives of area youth, which is why we are thrilled to join with Integrity and Celebration management to exponentially increase the reach and impact of The !st Tee programming throughout Central Florida,” said Thomas Lawrence, Executive Director of the First Tee. “This partnership enables us to expand into new areas; Lake, Osceola and Seminole counties, and that is going to make a big difference in the lives of children, who will not only learn the great game of golf, but the life lessons also.”
If you have an interest in helping the First Tee of Central Florida, you can visit one of the courses listed to learn more, or visit www.TheFirstTeeCFL.org.