Glynn elementaries to get First Tee program
The group’s goal is to use golf to teach core values to youth
By Terry Dickson
Posted with Permission from Florida Times Union and jacksonville.com
BRUNSWICK – Chris Brown lined up a putt Tuesday morning and tapped it toward his target.
But instead of a green, he was putting on Glynn Academy’s hardwood gym floor. He was also using an oversized plastic putter and the ball was more like a tennis ball than a hard golf ball.
“And that’s the way I putt,’’ he said as he missed his target drawing laughs from other teachers.
Brown was one of Glynn County’s physical education teachers who took a golf lesson unlike any they had ever had. Their instructor was Benna Cawthorn, managing director of Curriculum and Training for The First Tee, an organization that uses golf to teach healthy habits and good core values to youth.
There was a pile of equipment in the middle of the gym floor, targets, hoops and clubs that will fit the hands of kindergartners through fifth-graders, The First Tee’s target ages.
“There’s one set of equipment that teachers will use. All 10 will get it,’’ said Mark Love, executive director of the Davis Love Foundation. The foundation will coordinate with the new Golden Isles Leadership Foundation to manage the program in Glynn County. Funding comes from the McGladrey Classic, a PGA Tour tournament played each October at Sea Island Co.’s Seaside course on St. Simons Island. Love’s brother, Davis Love III, is the tournament host and this year’s Ryder Cup captain.
Will Bratton, who works in outreach for The First Tee, said the program will focus on teaching core values and healthy habits.
The core values are easily attached to golf, Love said.
“It’s a game of honor,’’ he said.
Indeed, golf is a game in which the lucky breaks come only in where the ball rolls and not what the officials say. Golfers referee themselves and call their own penalties.
Their are nine core values and nine health habits. The values include honesty, integrity, respect and perseverance and the healthy habits include play, energy, safety, family and vision.
Once believed to be a rich man’s game, golf is more inclusive and the program will help students play the real game, not just the instructional indoor version.
Love said The First Tee, the foundations and some partners will “find ways to get them to green grass facilities.”
That may include youth days at local facilities, he said.
“The in-schools program is a stepping stone,’’ Love said.
The First Tee curriculum is in use in about 5,000 elementary schools and has been experienced by about 2.5 million youth, Bratton said.
“We want to reach 10 million by 2017,’’ he said.