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First Tee-Canada making golf accessible for youth

Local NewsFirst Tee-Canada making golf accessible for youth

Seven youngsters between the ages of seven and 12 wrapped up their First Tee-Canada programming at the Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course on Monday, June 10, 2024.

First Tee-Canada was established back in 2021 and is just one of the two programs supported by the RBC Community Junior Golf initiative, led in partnership by RBC and Golf Canada.

Throughout the six-week program, participants got the opportunity to learn the fundamental skills of golf in a fun and interactive setting at no cost as all the coaching, location costs and equipment were covered by RBC.

Chloe Podstawka and Harmony George practice their putting skills during the final session of the First Tee-Canada program at the Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course on Monday, June 10, 2024.

From gripping the club to chipping onto the green, putting speed, distance control and mastering the swing, First Tee ultimately aims to provide young people, ages five to 18, with the tools for success both on and off the course.

Karsen Nunn drives his ball onto the range during the final session of the First Tee-Canada program at the Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course on Monday, June 10, 2024.

Because the program is made to create and foster life skills like inner strength, self-confidence, resilience, honesty and respect, Jeff Moore, CPGA Pro and First Tee head coach, not only walked the youngsters through the basics of golf and encouraged them along the way, but during each session, he also incorporated various life lessons and skills as well.

“Each night we’ve been talking about different golf skills like target awareness, but we’ve also touched on the importance of sportsmanship, respect for the golf course and respect for fellow competitors,” said Moore. “It’s been interesting because one of the very first life skills we introduced to them that first week was collaboration and it’s actually been really neat to see how they’ve taken a liking to it and are applying what they’ve learned.”

Addisyn Doused works on her aim during the final session of the First Tee-Canada program at the Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course on Monday, June 10, 2024.

The coach added that after spending the past six Mondays with the youngsters, it was fulfilling to see them develop an excitement for the game.

“Last week, we let them hit their woods for the first time and they didn’t want to leave the range,” laughed Moore. “They just wanted to stay out there because if you make it fun for the kids and you pique their interest with games like how we do tic-tac-toe on the green, they’re going to naturally want to continue because it’s fun and it isn’t super regimented.”

Caleb Podstawka nervously watches on as Joel George encourages his ball to make it onto the tic-tac-toe board during the final session of the First Tee-Canada program at the Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course on Monday, June 10, 2024.

With the ultimate goal of building greater diversity and providing youth with better access to the game of golf, the First Tee-Canada program is offered across 35 different municipal and publicly accessible courses around the country and each location, including Brantford’s own Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course, is specifically chosen due to its proximity to public transportation and community centres.

Caleb Podstawka works on his putting speed during the final session of the First Tee-Canada program at the Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course on Monday, June 10, 2024.

As part of the initiative, the golf course also offers subsidized rounds of golf for RBC Community Junior Golf participants with a Youth on Course membership, giving them the opportunity to play a round for five dollars or less throughout the week.

Since its inception, RBC Community Junior Golf has engaged over 20,000 participants and has provided more than 1,000 complimentary Youth on Course memberships for children.

Chloe Podstawka practices driving her ball during the final session of the First Tee-Canada program at the Walter Gretzky Municipal Golf Course on Monday, June 10, 2024.

Moore said that it was wonderful to see such great programs implemented in the city and that it gives children who may not otherwise have access to the sport, a way to see what golf is all about.

“It’s terrific to see this program and it wouldn’t be possible without the support and funding from RBC. The whole thing is provided at no cost to the kids and that gives them access to the introduction that they may not have otherwise,” he said. “I’ve often said to the kids that golf is probably the greatest game that you could play because you can play it your entire life, you can play it with your friends, and you can play it with your family. Sports like hockey are great but practice lasts for around an hour and your parents sit and watch, but with golf you can play anywhere from two to four hours, and you can do that with your family and have that time with them.”

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