Our First Tee Growth Story

It all started with a vision: make golf more accessible. It was under the leadership of former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem that this vision came to life, launching First Tee in 1997 with the support of the leading golf organizations, Augusta National, LPGA Tour, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and USGA. 

As we introduced the game, we also introduced a curriculum that supported the development of character and values found within the game of golf. This was a game changer – for the kids, and for the organization. 

Twenty-five years later, we’ve grown to a network of 150 chapters with programs delivered at 1,400 golf courses, 10,000 schools and 1,700 youth centers in all 50 states and select international locations. And while our impact is far reaching, it’s the personal stories that reveal the true depth of our program.

“First Tee did help to instill in me various character values that were important to maintain as far as how to build my life, how to layout my goals and reach my dreams,” says First Tee alumna Dr. Amber Hardeman. “Being in First Tee gave me a lot more drive, an appreciation for understanding that it wasn’t just about me, but I was helping to show other young African American children that golf can be a gateway to life.”

Not only does Amber have an incredible work ethic and multiple degrees, but she has made it her life’s mission to support under-resourced populations with her career in medicine. Little did she know, when she started with First Tee — Greater Dallas in 2005, it would significantly transform her life. She gained dozens of opportunities and advanced her golf game, but more importantly, it was through her experiences at First Tee that she developed her character and values that continue to guide her today.  

Amber’s story is one of millions who have been impacted by First Tee during the last 25 years.

“There is little doubt that First Tee has grown significantly and had an indelible impact on millions of young people during the last 25 years,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “I am inspired by the dedicated leaders at our chapters, and by the volunteers, donors, team members and partners across the network who show their commitment to our mission each day.”

This week, we are kicking off recognition of our 25th anniversary with the first of many alumni features and a new anniversary storytelling hub on firsttee.org. Throughout the year, we will be lifting alumni voices, highlighting our growth story, and celebrating supporters who have collaborated with us along the way.