Summer brings a chance for 9- to 18-year-olds to get help with their golf swings and brush up on other skills that can make a difference in life.
The First Tee of Charlotte, an organization that helps children build leadership skills and character through golf and education programs, opens its five-week summer program June 15 and has some scholarships available. Registration is underway for morning and afternoon weekday sessions.
For the first time, the summer program will open at The First Tee's new Learning Academy at Revolution Park golf course in west Charlotte. The building has spaces for education programs and offices.
Transportation will be available for participants from five Mecklenburg recreation centers, said Vincent King, First Tee executive director.
“Prior to this, we've always had to lean on someone else for use of a roof,” King said.
The First Tee of Charlotte was founded in 2001. It is an outreach program of the World Golf Foundation, a nonprofit group whose mission is to positively affect lives through golf.
First Tee programs focus on nine core values, including responsibility, respect, honesty and sportsmanship. Children get lessons in etiquette and hygiene, work in a computer lab and attend tutoring sessions.
More than 3,000 children have participated in the program. Until now, they learned golf on several of the county's five public golf courses.
Renovations began last year on the nine-hole public course at Revolution Park. The course, operated by Ratcliffe Golf Services, opened in 1930 and, in 1957, became the first in the city to desegregate.
The First Tee of Charlotte contributed $500,000 for golf course improvements and renovated the clubhouse, now a learning academy. Having a permanent home for education programs makes it easier for children and volunteers to participate because the location is fixed.
The summer program costs $35 a week and includes lunch. Yet, this year the sessions are shorter – about two hours plus time for lunch, compared with three or four hours in previous years.
Classes are Monday-Thursday. Morning classes run from 9 to 11 a.m., with lunch afterward. Afternoon sessions are 1 to 3 p.m., with lunch before. Children have to choose morning or afternoon. A one-week Teeny Tees session for 5- to 8-year-olds begins July 13.
King said shorter sessions allow more children to participate. Those who progress in life skills and golf can earn extra time on the golf course, King said.
“You have to work on being a better kid, and work on your life skills and work on being a better golfer,” King said.