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Youth golf programs growing

Wednesday March 30, 2005

LOUISVILLE'S YOUTH GOLF PROGRAMMING TO EXPAND
The First Tee names Louisville 200th National Partner



LOUISVILLE (March 30, 2005) – Louisville’s youth golf programming will expand through a partnership between Louisville Metro Government and The First Tee, a national program that impacts the lives of young people of all backgrounds through the platform of golf. Mayor Jerry Abramson joined youth golfers and community leaders today to announce Louisville’s selection as the 200th chapter of The First Tee.

The program will be housed at Shawnee Golf Course, 460 Northwestern Parkway, although it will provide improved golf and life-skills instruction to children across the community.

The First Tee of Louisville will conduct golf and life-skills programming at Shawnee Golf Course through an agreement with Metro Parks. The program will have access to the three-hole BellSouth Youth Golf Course, a driving range, short game practice area and the 18-hole golf course. The First Tee will also create an indoor learning center inside the Shawnee Clubhouse, that will feature a virtual golf simulator, golf library and computer access.

“This designation recognizes the outstanding success our youth golf programs have enjoyed over the years and our commitment to the positive development of our young people,” Abramson said. “Being a chapter of The First Tee gives us access to national expertise, provides important life skills training, and creates new opportunities for college scholarships. By participating in sports our young people not only enjoy a physical activity and develop new friendships, but also gain valuable life experiences.”

Representatives from the Tee Swingers Golfers Club, Shawnee Youth Golf Club, and the Louisville Urban League’s Urban Youth Golf Program will administer The First Tee Life Skills Experience, a curriculum developed by The First Tee that uses golf to teach practical social skills to support young people’s development. These three partners already serve more than 200 youth golfers that will benefit from The First Tee program.

As a chapter of The First Tee, Louisville’s program participants will have free or reduced-rate access to The First Tee’s other facilities across the country, from San Diego to Buffalo.

The PGA of America, one of The First Tee’s Oversight Partners, was at the forefront of bringing the program to Louisville. The First Tee of Louisville is a joint effort between The First Tee, the PGA of America, the Louisville Urban League, Louisville Metro Government and Metro Parks.

“This is a significant milestone in the seven-year history of The First Tee,” said Mark Lowry, director of chapter education for The First Tee. “With support from the golf industry and from communities like Louisville, The First Tee has solidified itself as a powerful youth development program committed to enriching the lives of young people by focusing on values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship.”

Children and parents will have an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of The First Tee during a spring break golf clinic at Shawnee Golf Course, April 4-6. The cost is $60; scholarships are available.

Shawnee Golf Course, founded in 1928, is one of Louisville’s most popular municipal golf courses, hosting 50,000 rounds of play in 2004. Golf Professional Craig Heibert, who joined the Metro Parks golf program in January, is continuing the strong emphasis placed on junior golf by former Shawnee professional Kevin Greenwell, who recently moved to Seneca Golf Course. Heibert, Greenwell, and Bobby Nichols Golf Course professional George Johnson are actively working to make The First Tee of Louisville successful. For information on the various youth golf programming available, call Shawnee Golf Course at (502) 776-9389.

The First Tee (www.thefirsttee.org) was launched in 1997 as an initiative of the World Golf Foundation. In May 2003, The First Tee’s honorary chairman, former President George H. W. Bush, announced Richmond, Va., as the program’s 100th partner. The program, which has experienced exponential growth each year since its inception, has introduced the game of golf to more than 450,000 participants since 2000.