Since 1997, the First Tee has introduced the game of golf and its inherent values to the more than six million young people. On golf courses, in elementary schools and on military installations, we’ve helped shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by teaching them values like integrity, respect and perseverance through the game of golf. In addition to learning fundamentals of the golf swing and the game, our character education and life skills programs help young people prepare for success in high school, college and life. A sample of life skills lessons include:
- How to manage emotions
- How to set goals
- How to resolve conflicts
- How to introduce themselves
- How to communicate with others
- First Tee Parents’ Guide
First Tee Nine Core Values
First Tee has established Nine Core Values that represent some of the many inherently positive values connected with the game of golf.
By participating in First Tee, kids are introduced to these core values which are incorporated throughout the program. Parents are encouraged to reinforce these behaviors by talking about them, what they mean and what these behaviors can look like at home.
View Our Nine Core Values
- Honesty – The quality or state of being truthful; not deceptive. Golf is unique from other sports in that players regularly call penalties on themselves and report their own score.
- Integrity – Strict adherence to a standard of value or conduct; personal honesty and independence. Golf is a game of etiquette and composure. Players are responsible for their actions and personal conduct on the golf course even at times when others may not be looking.
- Sportsmanship – Observing the rules of play and winning or losing with grace. Players must know and abide by the rules of golf and be able to conduct themselves in a kind and respectful manner towards others even in a competitive game.
- Respect – To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem. In golf it is important to show respect for oneself, playing partners, fellow competitors, the golf course, and for the honor and traditions of the game.
- Confidence – Reliance or trust. A feeling of self-assurance. Confidence plays a key role in the level of play that one achieves. Players can increase confidence in their abilities by being positive and focusing on something they are doing well regardless of the outcome.
- Responsibility – Accounting for one’s actions; dependable. Players are responsible for their actions on the golf course. It is up to them to keep score, repair divots, rake bunkers, repair ball marks on the green, and keep up with the pace of play.
- Perseverance – To persist in an idea, purpose or task despite obstacles. To succeed in golf, players must continue through bad breaks and their own mistakes, while learning from past experiences.
- Courtesy – Considerate behavior toward others; a polite remark or gesture. A round of golf should begin and end with a handshake between fellow competitors. Players also should be still and quiet while others are preparing and performing a shot.
- Judgment – The ability to make a decision or form an opinion; a decision reached after consideration. Using good judgment is very important in golf. It comes into play when deciding on strategy, club selection, when to play safe and when to take a chance, the type of shot players consider executing, as well as making healthy choices on and off the golf course.
First Tee Nine Healthy Habits
Playing the game of golf can improve your quality of life as there are many physical, emotional and social benefits.
Energy – It is important to understand and make healthy choices about when to eat, how much to
eat, and the types of food and drinks to provide the body with the most useful energy.
Play – A variety of energizing play can help the body stay strong, lean and fit, and be fun in
the process. Sleep and other forms of “re-charging” allow one to engage in play on a
Safety – Physical safety includes playing in a safe environment and by the rules, protecting the
body with proper equipment, warm-up and cool-down and wearing sun protection.
Vision – In order to make the most of one’s unique gifts—talents, characteristics and abilities—
an individual needs to learn from the past, value the present, create their vision and
future to ultimately “leave a footprint.”
Mind – The mind is a powerful tool for health. One’s mind influences his/her emotions and
behaviors and can be utilized for self-improvement, building confidence and
Family – When family members participate in activities together – share meals, communicate
and establish roles and responsibilities – they are more likely to be successful in
achieving their health-related goals.
Friends – Maintaining healthy relationships includes surrounding one’s self with friends and
supportive people, while effectively handling challenging situations, including bullying
and navigating the digital age with social media.
School – Success in school – learning, building relationships and contributing to the school
environment – leads to success in other areas of life.
Community – Like the health of one’s body, it is important to also explore the health of one’s
community and discover how one can give back and care for its environment and safety.
First Tee Code of Conduct
Respect for Myself
- I will dress neatly and wear golf or athletic shoes.
- I will always try my best when I play or practice.
- I will keep a positive attitude and catch myself doing something right regardless of the outcome.
- I will be physically active, eat well, get enough sleep and take care of myself so I can stay healthy.
- I will be honest at all times, including when I keep score and if I break a rule.
- I will use proper etiquette and maintain my composure even when others may not be watching.
Respect for Others
- I will follow all instructions and safety rules.
- I will keep up with the pace of play on the golf course.
- I will be friendly, courteous and helpful.
- I will remain still and quiet while others are playing and have fun without being loud and rowdy.
- I will be a good sport toward others whether I win or lose.
Respect for my Surroundings
- I will keep the golf course and practice areas clean and in as good or better shape than I found them.
- I will clean and take care of my and others’ golf equipment.
- I will be careful not to damage anything that belongs to others.
Independent research confirms the First Tee’s ability to instill life skills and core values in youth participating in programs delivered through its chapters. Highlights from the study include:
Participants unanimously identified school as a setting in which they transferred life skills.
- 73% reported high confidence in their ability to do well academically.
- 82% felt confident in their social skills with peers.
- 57% credited the First Tee for their meeting and greeting skills.
- 52% credited the program for their ability to appreciate diversity.
- Our character education and life skills programs help young people prepare for success in high school, college and life.
Paralleling the structure of the golf instruction program, the First Tee life skills curriculum is divided into levels, starting with Player (for beginners) and progressing through Par, Birdie and Eagle.
The Player/Par levels focus on the fundamental communication and self-management skills. The Birdie level deals primarily with goal-setting. The Eagle level gives participants advanced instruction and practice on mastering Par and Birdie level skills, as well as additional topics, such as conflict management, mentoring, and career planning.
Each level consists of six life skills modules and every module contains a “core” lesson that all participants must be exposed to. The core lessons are suitable for delivery to any age group. In addition, the each module includes optional activities. Some give participants additional practice in the core life skills; some are designed for participants 12 and older; others deal with the application of life skills to non-golf situations at home or school.
In order to pass the certification test and move to the next program level, all students must be exposed to the concepts in the core lessons. Their understanding of these concepts is enhanced through role-plays, golf-related activities, and workbook exercises.
As part of The First Tee Certification Process, participants must demonstrate that they understand and can apply the core life skills by answering written questions and performing skills for an instructor. When they meet certification requirements, they progress to the next level.