Mission: "To impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf."
One of America’s successful Youth Development Programs is making great strides on the Grand Strand. The First Tee of Myrtle Beach is a real asset to our community. It helps local youth ages 7-18 build character through a fun-filled life skills character building learning experience through the game of golf. There are 205 First Tee chapters in 49 states, reaching 1million children each year. There are also 1.3 million additional children in over 2,800 elementary schools in America participating with The First Tee in the National Schools Program. Along the 60-mile Grand Strand and Horry County, there are 140 children benefiting from this powerful program at 10 affiliate golf courses in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Horry County.
Twenty-five coaches/golf instructors and 20 volunteers help the kids progress through the Par, Birdie, Eagle 12-week after-school one hour weekly sessions. “The very positive impact of this program for youth of all ages and backgrounds has been so meaningful for our community now and for the future,” said four-year First Tee Coach Shelby Smith, the director of golf instruction at the Whispering Pines Golf Academy. Hall-of-Famer Jack Nicklaus put it this way: “We need to do everything we can to promote positive values in our children, particularly thinking beyond themselves and caring for others.”
The truest expression of reality in the lives of young people comes best from the kids themselves. “The First Tee has helped me at home and school by teaching me life skills like courage and perseverance that have helped me through tough situations with my friends and family,” said Jordan White, 9, of Socastee. Peter Yan, 15 of Grand Dunes in Myrtle Beach, has been in the program four years. “The First Tee has helped me mature as an individual, as well as teach me invaluable lessons helping me succeed in school and golf,” he said.
This year, third-grader Kayla Parsons, 8, of Carolina Forest was voted U.S Kids Pinehurst Player of the Year. “It has helped me to set and achieve my goals for school and at my home,” Parsons said. Ethan Hood, 11, of Ramsey Acres in Myrtle Beach, likes the emphasis on building character. “The First Tee has affected my life by making me do better in school by making me get A’s and B’s,” he said. “Also, I have got more respect for people and myself. The students of The First Tee and me have nine core values, which are honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. I always try to use these every day.” These are indeed very powerful character insights from local children trying to achieve excellence in all aspects of their lives.
The First Tee of Myrtle Beach is making a very positive difference. A real significant accomplishment this fall has been the introduction of The First Tee National School Program into 10 Horry County Elementary Schools, with each school receiving $2,800 from The First Tee totaling $28,000. Quite an achievement with great future potential for youth. So now, after four years of real progress, the local First Tee Youth Development Programs need increased financial support from the business community and residents to support its growth.
This fall, a broad initiative has begun asking for donations from locals and visitors throughout the area golf courses, restaurants, businesses and hotels. You can participate in this donation effort. Look for The First Tee Donation Boxes at golf courses and business sites and/or send donations to The First Tee of Myrtle Beach, P.O. Box 3387, Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29578. “We are The Golf Capital of the World. Certainly we need to have a successful First Tee Program in Myrtle Beach for our youth,” Smith said. “Please spread the word and encourage increased support for The First Tee. Visit the local website at thefirstteemyrtlebeach.org for current schedules and activities, volunteer and donation information.”