The Wasioto Winds Golf Course, in conjunction with the Bell County Chamber of Commerce, held an open house on Friday. There was also a putting event with prizes at the end of the event.
Donnie Caldwell of the First Tee program was at the event to give people more information about the First Tee program. The program started 11 years ago and now takes place year-round. The program has a spring, summer and fall session.
“If we don’t invest in the young people, we will lose them,” said Caldwell.
There will also be five elementary schools in the area that will be teaching the First Tee program. Students will learn how to play golf in a school setting using plastic clubs. The program is set up to help drive children toward a career work environment or college.
First Tee is designed around helping young people understand and develop nine core values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgement.
The program does more than just develop children’s golf skills. The program also teaches children life lessons. The program teaches children: interpersonal skills, self-management, goal-setting and resiliency skills.
All these values are developed using a special method. First Tee uses golf as a foundation. Kids come to the program because they have an interest in golf. Using golf, the First Tee coaches help the kids to develop the values “seamlessly.” The coach also builds a relationship with the children.
In addition to the core values, children in the program also get a chance to compete. This is were the Kentucky Challenge comes into play. The Kentucky Challenge is a Rider’s Cup style tournament where children from the Pine Mountain chapter of the First Tee play against kids from the Lexington chapter.
Currently, there are 170 children that are involved in the First Tee program from seven surrounding counties. Sign-ups for the program began during the first week of June, but children can continue to sign up for the program. There is a $30 fee to sign up.
Two of the children from the local chapter were chosen to participate in the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy. While at the academy, one child received the best attitude award and the other received the most improved award.
This year, Richie Hoskins and Garrett Tucker from the Pine Mountain chapter will get a chance to play at Pebble Beach in the Nature Valley First Tee Open. Michael Wilson from the local chapter was one of 24 chosen to go to the Advanced Players Academy this year.
This weekend, the First Tee program will be hosting its first parent-child event. Next Thursday, the program will be hosting their “Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs” event. The First Tee golf scramble fundraiser will be on July 20.
Caldwell also announced some new prices for the golf course during his discussion. People from Kentucky can play the course for only $25 through the week and $30 on the weekend. There are also discount cards for faithful customers and season passes for families.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.