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Metro Parks Newsroom

The First Tee celebrates first year achievements

Tuesday May 23, 2006

Shawnee program growing to include affiliate at Long Run Park

At Shawnee Golf Course this afternoon, The First Tee of Louisville – a non-profit organization that offers golf and life-skills instruction at Shawnee Golf Course in partnership with Louisville Metro Government – celebrated an impressive list of accomplishments during the program’s first year.  Mayor Jerry Abramson praised local leaders of The First Tee for building an indoor training facility and outdoor pavilion, along with installing a virtual golf simulator.

"The First Tee is making golf accessible and enjoyable for young people in this community, providing positive experiences and healthy activity,” said Abramson.  “The group has funded major improvements to the junior facilities here at Shawnee Golf Course, and they’re preparing to do the same through a satellite program at Long Run Golf Course.  This is an impressive investment of time and money in developing the next generation of golfers.”  Abramson added that his $25 million Foundation for our Future bond issue included funds to build a new clubhouse at Long Run, and improve cart paths at both Shawnee and Long Run.

The First Tee of Louisville is a partnership between the U.S. Golf Association, PGA of America, Louisville Urban League, Louisville Metro Government and Metro Parks. In the year since Louisville was selected as the nation’s 200th chapter of The First Tee, the program has provided more than 3,000 hours of instruction to 250 young participants.  The local program recently received a $30,000 grant from the USGA, in recognition of achievements during the first year.

Some of the program’s major accomplishments at its new home in Shawnee Park include:

  • Constructing the Tumbleweed Indoor Training Facility in the clubhouse at Shawnee Golf Course.
  • Installing the Humana Golf Simulator – which provides instant, measurable feedback on a player’s golf swing – in the indoor training facility.
  • Building the PNC Pavilion, which now offers a gathering place for The First Tee’s participants, and serves as a picnic area during events.
  • Developing plans for a significant upgrade of the three-hole BellSouth Youth Golf Course.
  • Conducting special youth programs, including a Spring Break day camp, a program for home-schooled children, and a middle school intramural tournament.

Additionally, program representatives offered presentations about The First Tee to more than 2,000 area students.

Looking forward, The First Tee of Louisville is working with Metro Parks to open a three-hole youth facility later this year at Long Run Golf Course, where the organization will operate a program affiliated with The First Tee.  This facility is being constructed using $25,000 in neighborhood development funds from Metro Council members Julie Raque Adams, Stuart Benson, Kelly Downard, Hal Heiner and Glen Stuckel.  To develop that program and continue to accommodate growth at the program’s original location in Shawnee Park, The First Tee of Louisville will require increased private financial support and additional volunteers.

“We enjoyed tremendous fund-raising success in our first year, with individuals and corporations giving us $135,000 to support our programming,” said Ed Perry, The First Tee of Louisville’s president.  “More importantly, we’ve made a real impact on children and teenagers in Louisville – not just in golf instruction, but also on life skills, by focusing on values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship.  To ensure this program continues to make an impact on hundreds of children, we need ongoing support from everyone involved in the game of golf.”  Perry noted that a weekly instructional session on Monday afternoons at Shawnee Golf Course has grown to include more than 80 participants, which is about as many as the program can currently accommodate on one day.

Prospective volunteers and donors can call (502) 776-9389 or visit  Golf instruction at Shawnee is provided by professionals with PGA credentials, along with experienced volunteers.  The program serves children ages 4 to 18.

“Golf is a fun way to learn important life skills,” noted Craig Heibert, Shawnee Golf Course’s PGA professional.  “You don’t have to be strong or have 20/20 vision to be successful, but you do need to be honest, courteous, patient and willing to set personal goals.  I think that’s The First Tee’s true value – using golf as a platform to teach those life skills.”

Shawnee Golf Course, founded in 1928, is one of Louisville’s most popular municipal golf courses, hosting 46,000 rounds of play in 2005.  Long Run Golf Course, founded in 1963, is the only Metro Parks course serving eastern areas of Louisville Metro, and hosted 28,000 rounds of play last year.  For information on youth golf instruction opportunities, call Shawnee Golf Course at (502) 776-9389 or Long Run Golf Course at (502) 245-9015.  Seven other Metro Parks golf courses also offer youth golf instruction.
The First Tee ( was launched in 1997 as an initiative of the World Golf Foundation. The program, which has experienced exponential growth each year since its inception, has introduced the game of golf to more than 675,000 participants since 2000.  Local participants have free or reduced-rate access to more than 200 of The First Tee’s other facilities across the country.