Kids who sign up for The First Tee, created in 1997 to grow and diversify the sport of golf, learn from some of the best coaches in the country. In fact, many of the more than 900 active coaches are PGA/LPGA professionals. But teaching golf isn’t the program’s only aim.
“The First Tee is a youth development organization that uses golf as the hook,” said Jenae Jenkins, program director for The First Tee of Atlanta. While teaching young people the fundamentals of golf, the instructors at The First Tee also teach more than 5 million kids and teens annually in all 50 states something else: values. Specifically, they teach The First Tee Nine Core Values, which are honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, perseverance, confidence, responsibility, courtesy and judgment.
“Something I’ve learned from The First Tee is to always have a growth mindset, for example, playing with people that are better than you helps push you to want to be better,” said Kaylee Cornlius, a participant of The First Tee. “The coaches and the staff are very encouraging and they’re always pushing you to be your best.”
Some of the kids go on to earn college golf scholarships or play at Pebble Beach. Many also find ways to give back to their communities. “To see them grow into great young people has really been probably the best benefit of my job,” Jenkins said.
Through its partnership with The First Tee, Southern Company helped add 323 schools to the program last year alone, impacting more than 161,500 students in 57 communities. This year the company continued to support the organization, with a projected goal of sponsoring 175 schools in the Southern Company Gas and Southern Company Power communities, representing 87,500 students annually.
Watch the video to learn more about The First Tee and Southern Company’s involvement.