The First Tee National School Program
The focus of the First Tee National School Program is to establish a lifelong interest in golf by engaging young people in a structured golf curriculum taught during physical education classes, while promoting personal character development in every lesson. Industry associations, media organizations, golf course owners, equipment manufacturers, community leaders, school district administrative staff, teachers and students work together to implement this curriculum at local schools. National School Program Leadership Teams promote realistic and accessible transition opportunities to those children interested in taking their interest in golf to the next level – learning and playing at a golf facility.
The First Tee National School Program encompasses an introduction of the lifelong activity of golf and how it is played, basic skills instruction, and includes in each lesson the life-enhancing values inherent in golf via The First Tee Nine Core Valuestm. Currently, the National School Program is being implemented in elementary schools.
Once students are introduced to golf in P.E. classes information on “next stop” opportunities is provided through local golf community professionals. To ensure the connection between the school and golf communities, local Leadership Teams are established. These consist of key leaders from the school district and golf communities. This team, working closely with the National School Program staff, manages the implementation of the in-school and facilitates and promotes communication to encourage transition of students into golf in their community.
School leadership is responsible for selecting schools, organizing teachers, setting up training and overseeing the program as it is implemented each year in schools. Golf community professionals serving on Leadership Teams help research, organize and provide teachers with information on viable golf opportunities available to students and families. In addition, golf community professionals may also visit schools to conduct clinics and other types of programs to enhance the golf lessons taking place in physical education classes while also promoting “next step” community-based golf programs.
The National School Program is a developmentally appropriate golf program designed specifically for elementary physical education. Each lesson is designed to include fun and challenging activities that are flexible and therefore permit teachers to meet students’ varying developmental levels. This teacher-friendly lesson design leads to a successful experience for both teachers and students. Due to the success students enjoy during participation in the program, they are more likely to continue to engage in the activity and, as a result continue, participation in this health-enhancing lifestyle. Each lesson plan includes a skill (psychomotor), a concept (cognitive), and a core value (affective) objective. Participating students actively engage in a variety of motor skills associated with striking a stationary ball with a long-handled implement to a target. A progressive approach to introducing key skills used to align with students’ developmental process. Basic skills are presented to students on how to hold, set-up, and safely swing a putter and a wedge. Cue-word sequences are taught to enable students to better understand the body positions for performing the critical elements of each skill. Striking is taught through the basic golf skills of putt, chip, pitch and full swing in gradual progression as teachers move students through 24 lessons throughout the elementary years. For the motor skill concept (cognitive) element of each lesson, students learn the basic motor skill concepts of personal space, levels, force, flow, phases of movement, and routines. For example, the concept of “force” is taught by instructing students that more force is applied to the ball by lengthening the swing of the club to make the ball travel farther. This results in sending the ball a greater distance through a longer swing rather than by applying “force” by trying to hit the ball harder with the club. Other supporting concepts students learn and apply that are reinforced in each lesson include following protocols for safe participation (taking turns/rotating through stations/checking personal space before swinging), and introduction to and application of golf rules and etiquette during participation. The National School Program provides lessons that require students to learn and practice self-management while applying other core values during participation. Repetitive application of core values including integrity, respect, responsibility, and judgment for example, in conjunction with the learning of striking motor skills and concepts, can also be transferred and utilized when learning other physical education and school activities. The design of the National School Program curriculum integrates the learning the skills, concepts and core values in each lesson.