The Golden Bear Talks to Congress About the Positive Impact of The First Tee

Nicklaus with participants from The First Tee of Central Ohio
Nicklaus with participants from The First Tee of Central Ohio

World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus, known to many as the Golden Bear, is a Trustee and long-time believer in The First Tee. He speaks to many—from his local chapters in Central Ohio and the Palm Beaches to government officials in Washington, DC—about the positive impact The First Tee has on young people and junior golfers.

Earlier this summer, Nicklaus spoke before the men and women of U.S. Congress about the importance of The First Tee’s mission, core values, character development and education programs. Below is a speech excerpt from this sports legend that The First Tee is proud to include as one of its friends and advocates.

Excerpt from a speech by Jack Nicklaus before U.S. Congress on
National Golf Day 2014

“The First Tee is unique to golf, unique to youth development organizations and it is having a meaningful and lasting impact on young people.

Nicklaus with SSG Robbie Laux and participant Lauren Artis. Photo by Jim Mandeville.
Nicklaus with SSG Robbie Laux and participant Lauren Artis. Photo by Jim Mandeville.

Today, I have the honor and pleasure of sharing the same tee box with Wounded Warrior Army Staff Sargent Robbie Laux and Lauren Artis, a participant at The First Tee of Greater Washington, DC. No other sport allows you the opportunity on the same playing field to bridge differences in age, abilities and disabilities to have a game—and most important, to have fun. I have always said golf is a game for a lifetime, but also at any given moment in this game, you can have the time of your life.

Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf presented by Bass Pro Shops - Final RoundWhen I first picked up a club at age 10, it was because I was able to spend time on a golf course with my father. It was there where he and the game helped shape me to be the person I am today. It taught me discipline, integrity, honor and sportsmanship. The first time I threw a club, my father taught me most of those values in one painful lesson.

Golf and The First Tee provide young people role models at a time in their lives when role models are so critical.

circle of kidsWhat I learned on the golf course many years ago is still important today and those same life lessons are the focus of The First Tee—how to set goals, how to overcome obstacles, how to respect the environment, respect my playing partners and to respect myself.

I firmly believe that golf is a wonderful training ground for developing character and values like confidence, judgment, responsibility and accountability. The First Tee is not only teaching a game that can last a lifetime, but through this game it is teaching lessons for life.

But we also know golf is just the vehicle, not the destination.

We so often talk about the potential of a wonderful program like The First Tee and how it can shape our youth and the future of our country. But we are also a results-driven culture. There is evidence The First Tee is producing great golfers, but for now, the focus remains on producing good citizens. And The First Tee is doing just that.

Jack Nicklaus_RBSBecause of success stories such as these, I am proud to be associated with The First Tee, and commend the many volunteers and coaches that work tirelessly in communities around the country to bring this program to life. This country will be in a better place because of The First Tee.”