Welcome to First Tee Chapters

By Dr. Bern Bernacki
Continued from The First Tee page….

So, parents, volunteers, and coaches are all invited and welcome to enjoy the fun, too!   Many of our GHS members are already poised, awaiting your call to come to your chapter to provide this action. One of our members may already be located close to you. We might be your neighbor or even a member of your golf course, country club or even place of worship. We are eager to meet you!

The GHS maintains a formal Speakers Bureau with more accomplished and experienced presenters.  Our members include a virtual army of avid hickory golfers, golf historians, and golf antique collectors. These members are passionate about sharing their knowledge about the people, places, and things associated with the old game of golf. These GHS presenters may have already enjoyed a great experience providing First Tee youth with a golf antiquities presentation, and can hardly wait to share golf history with your next group, in another presentation, or, on the First Tee, playing hickory sticks!

GHS members are passionate about golf collecting and hickory play, and are always interacting with one another, talking about collections, golf history, and hickory play sets. Your First Tee group represents an audience of new friends with whom to shared these interests. Our presentations can launch a young First Tee participant’s interest in Continuous Learning about golf history.

GHS-sponsored events fit right in with the First Tee’s desire for programs that are:
• Activity Based. Fun and seamless presentations with interactive formats that are always best for getting kids engaged and learning.
• Youth Centered. Relationship-focused presentations with the emphasis on the kids.

 A golf antiquities “Show and Tell,” for example, is a fun, interactive engagement. It’s a very good way to start. It is so easy and is popular, and hence, is the recommended method to get history programming going for your chapter. There are so many ways to do this, you are limited only by your time and space constraints. Be creative with your GHS partner on how to set something up that works just right for your chapter.  Together, you can anticipate youth requests for history-based programming and design the activity to be interactive and hands-on to enhance your program.

GHS member Eric Wolke shares his knowledge of golf ball history with participants from the First Tee of Pittsburgh.

It’s our experience that golf history presentations always generate eager and excited questions and in-depth conversations with the First Tee participants. The question we hear most is the one we most love to hear:  “Do you think that we might be able to actually PLAY with some of this ‘old golf’ equipment?” As the answer is always an emphatic “YES” we advise program directors to be prepared!    

Actual demonstrations and first-hand experience with the living history of hickory golf clubs adds such components as:
• Mastery Driven Activity – Actual hands-on experience with original hickory golf clubs provides not only a unique golf experience, but another path toward competence, confidence, and skill.
Opportunities to Socialize and Compete with other chapter participants through friendly matches using hickory clubs.
• Continuous Learning with coachable moments. Interest in golf history is a near-certainty as the opportunity to use 100-year-old clubs raises such questions as “Who used these clubs, where were they played, when, and what other kinds of clubs did they use?” 

First Tee kids enjoy a true “old golf” outing at the Foxburg Hickory Championship in 2018. The course in Foxburg, Pa., is one of the oldest in the country and annually hosts a hickory golf tournament with a division that uses pre-1900 clubs and replica gutta-percha balls. (Gutta percha was the material used to make golf balls from roughly 1850-1900.) The kids above are posing with one of the course’s original carved-stone “boxes”for holding sand and water, two ingredients needed to make the sand tees of the day – before wooden tee pegs came along.

We have learned that one successful program often leads to requests for more and more, so PDs and Coaches, be listening, and be ready to take those next steps with your eager young, budding golf historians and avid new hickory players. Use these opportunities to provide new and interesting golf heritage-related programing in your chapter to improve and maintain your overall retention rate.

Taken together, golf history presentations and experience with hickory golf clubs will empower your participants to explore the heritage of golf and grow personally as they expand their interest and appreciation for the game in so many exciting directions.

We welcome you to join in the fun.