First Tee Teaches Values Through Golf

You may not think that a golf course is the place to teach children life-enhancing values to develop their character, but it can be if it is a First Tee golf course. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports on a local chapter of a national program aimed at making children better adults while teaching them the game of golf.

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Just before the Redstone Golf Club in Humble sits the Dick Harmon Learning Center, a three hole, par three golf course and putting green for children from 7 to 18. It is the home of one of two First Tee programs in the area.

"A child that's new to The First Tee is going to learn how to have a positive attitude; they're going to learn how to keep their cool, their going to learn how to set goals in relation to themselves as opposed to others. Those are the kinds of skill sets that they're learning."

Diane Overstreet is with the Houston Golf Association and is The First Tee Program Coordinator. Last week was the first session for a group of kids who have successfully completed The First Tee's entry level. Overstreet says communication skills are emphasized when a new group gathers.

"They'll learn to introduce themselves to adults as well as children, how do you communicate, how do you ask open ended questions. While they're out there playing golf if they get frustrated what do they do, how do they manage that situation."

They manage it by remembering the three tips for having fun; be patient, be positive and ask for help. Before they head outside the seven to 12-year-olds pair off in two's and simultaneously toss tennis balls to each other while reciting the three tips for having fun.

"Be patient, be positive and ask for help."

Josh Casey is part of the group and he says the four R's also help you to keep you cool when frustrated.

"Replay, relax, ready, re-do. In other words figure out what went wrong and replay it in your mind and then relax and get ready to do it again and then do it."

Outside, the kids splits into two groups with one doing a chipping exercise and the other putting. Instruction Coordinator Lauren Ressler says the students learn best when they are active.

"So instead of having the teacher stand in front of the class and teach for 20-minutes about the fundamentals, we just get them out there, get them going and they kind of learn as they go."

The First Tee is free and open to everyone. Several school districts participate and The Houston Golf Association and The First Tee hope to eventually be involved with all the school districts in the area. You'll find a link to The First Tee at Diane Overstreet says everyone can benefit from the three tips for having fun, the four R's and the nine core values, which are...

"Responsibility, perseverance, honesty, respect, confidence, judgment, courtesy, integrity and sportsmanship. I think I got them all...I had to use my fingers though."

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