First Tee Leadership Academy provides golf access for those who might not otherwise have opportunity to play
By Keener A. Tippin II
The true art of memory is the art of attention.
While Joseph Lynch's recollection of his foray into golf and the clubs he received for a Christmas present may differ from his father's memory -- Joseph recalls he just got them; his father, Mike, remembers Joseph wanting to try the sport because many of his middle school friends had just begun to play.
Nonetheless last summer he had the opportunity to give a lot of attention to his golf game and leadership skills.
Joseph, pictured below, was one of over 100 young golfers participating in the third annual First Tee Skills and Leadership Academy last summer at the Earl Woods Youth Golf Academy at Colbert Hills Golf Course and Kansas State University. This year's academy will be July 12-19.
The focus of the academy is not just golf. More importantly, the academy provides the participants with valuable character education and leadership lessons from the First Tee's Life Skills curriculum and K-State's Leadership Studies Program. Besides the young golfers, PGA teaching pros and First Tee Chapter representatives also are participating.
The academy offers life skills and leadership development workshops, golf clinics, career exploration seminars and meetings with sports figures representing the values of golf. Participants also have the opportunity to meet peers from across the country. Participants are selected from First Tee golf-learning facilities across the country to participate in the academy. The First Tee is a World Golf Foundation initiative dedicated to providing affordable golf access for everyone, especially kids, who otherwise might not have an opportunity to play. The program also offers college scholarships for students who have participated in the academy.
It's the quality golf instruction, meeting peers from across the country and the chance to stay in college dorms that has Joseph excited about the academy, not to mention the opportunity to improve his golf game. The life skills and leadership instruction, well, they're a lot like vegetables: You know they're good for you but you don't necessarily want them.
"It's not going to be my favorite part," Joseph admitted prior to last year's academy about the life skills and leadership instruction, "but the life skills and the leadership that they teach us I can use on the golf course."
Joseph isn't alone in his sentiment about the life skills and leadership.
"One of the complaints kids have is that we send them through all this leadership and life skills program and sometimes they just want to play," said Reginland McGowan, Earl Woods National Youth Golf Academy co-director.
As a result, new changes have been made structurally to the academy, giving the instruction a "seamless" approach -- particularly in regards to the leadership and life skills aspect. Replacing the four content areas of the past -- life skills leadership, golf instruction and playing on the big course -- will be 12 teaching stations.
"One of the things we wanted to do is make both of those a seamless approach," McGowan said. "In the past we had problems with kids being able to differentiate what's life skills and what's leaderships because some of the concepts are very similar."
Photo courtesy First Tee program.