Learning the Value of Character on the Golf Course

About two years ago it dawned on me that I spent a ton of timing driving my kids to ballet and ski racing and softball and ski racing and tennis and ski racing….and well, you get the idea. So I decided that I wanted to learn a new sport and golf won the coin toss. I mean, more thought than that went into it, but it’s a sport that I knew I could play for my whole life.

My kids were learning through The First Tee, a program that I can’t say enough good things about. For starters, “Kids have amazing opportunities to go places and meet people they wouldn’t have access to without this program,” says Chris Dewar, director of the Northern Nevada branch of the program. “Money has nothing to do with it.” A four-week, eight-session program at The First TeeThe First Tee costs about $80, but no child is ever turned away for inability to pay. Dozens of kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows participate every summer for free. The program is funded by dozens of corporate sponsors, including The Coca-Cola Company, Fed-Ex, Shell Oil, Golf Digest and TaylorMade-Adidas and is largely supported by volunteers. The mission of the program is to teach “character education” through golf.

“I coached youth basketball for 14 years and we never taught life skills,” says Dewar. “I was always trying to figure out how I could make the kids better people, and that’s what The First Tee’s philosophy is all about,” says Dewar, who is also an LPGA golf professional. “If they become good golfers, that’s great,” she says, “but if they learn to use better judgement in their lives, that’s more important.”

“I wish we could get more kids earlier,” she says. “Golf is a sport of honor and integrity, and it’s a great tie-in to life.” In fact, golf is the only sport where players are expected to call their own penalties. “If someone cheats at golf, chances are they cheat in other areas of their life,” says Dewar.

I’m going to write more about this program, but I’m wondering what lessons you hope your kids learn through golf or any of their favorite sports?


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