The First Tee–Linking Girls to Golf

Girls Golf 1Young people today, especially girls, are experiencing more pressure than ever. Peers, parents, school and media all influence a girl’s concept of how she should look and act. DWomen’s Sports Foundation-led studies have found that girls who participate in sports and are more physically active have greater levels of self-esteem and self-image. They are also less likely to partake in sexual behaviors or use illicit drugs*. According to National Golf Foundation, only 19 percent of golfers are females. At The First Tee chapters, approximately 37 percent are girls and the goal is to grow that to 45 percent by 2017. The First Tee recognizes the need to increase their participation and many chapters are already ramping up efforts. Jeff Kent has two daughters enrolled in The First Tee of Greater Seattle and has seen the positive effects of the program. “Since joining The First Tee, my daughters’ characters have grown as a direct result of The First Tee Nine Core Values,” he said. “Both have called penalties on themselves, competed at the highest levels and most importantly are focused at school.” More than a third of The First Tee chapters are already offering the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, which provides an opportunity for girls to have fun and make friends while developing skills and fostering their enjoyment for the game. This program is one of the key strategies to bringing more girls to The First Tee. Close up of girl holding TFT golf ballYet, some chapters have taken it a step further. The First Tee of Delaware, The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia and The First Tee of Raritan Valley are piloting a program that involves members of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) and LPGA. The program runs all year and provides girls with instruction, coaching, practice, nutritional education and more. “The girls have become an informal team where they can support each other,” says Rebecca Dengler, an LPGA/PGA teaching professional who helped develop the program. “There have been many successes in the short time [since the program started] from playing in a first event, first-place finishes and making high school and college teams.” Respect 2The First Tee of Metropolitan New York has developed Girls Golf and FORE!, a program available to girls ages 12 –18 that links participants with role models and mentors. The program confronts at-risk behaviors and educates girls to assertively introduce themselves, manage their emotions, resolve conflict, plan for the future and embrace diversity. By reaching its goal of 45 percent female participation, The First Tee can have a lasting impact on this important group of young people. You go, girls!
* Women’s Sports Foundation Report, Her Life Depends on It: Sport, Physical Activity and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls, 2004