What began as a chance meeting through Fort Worth’s prestigious Colonial Country Club came to fruition last week in the form of 50 smiling faces and a good time for everyone.
The Glen Rose First Tee Program, a golf program for youth of all ages geared toward teaching the fundamentals of the sport as well as nine core human values, teed off with a week-long camp from June 22-25 at Squaw Valley Golf Club.
“I think all the kids and parents really had a good time and are pumped about the program,” said Karen Stepp, who has acted as the driving force behind expanding the Fort Worth chapter of the First Tee Program to include Glen Rose.
Stepp says the idea came into existence through a chance meeting with Kevin Long, the executive director for Fort Worth First Tee.
“We met through Colonial and talked about the program for (more than a year). Finally we decided to take baby steps by starting with a camp to see what the community’s reaction would be,” Stepp said. “It was very well received.”
The Glen Rose chapter of the program currently operates under the wings of the Fort Worth chapter.
“Being under their umbrella has saved us from having to take the steps to become a charter program until we’re ready,” said Stepp.
One of the biggest advantages to bringing the program to Glen Rose is the availability of excellent facilities, according to Stepp.
“We’re fortunate to have excellent facilities at Squaw Valley (Golf Club) where we can block off half the driving range and one green and have plenty of room,” she said.
Squaw Valley Golf Pro Duff Cunningham jumped onboard, and on June 22, fifty youth ranging in age from 5-18 were ready to hit the links. But golf isn’t all that’s being taught through First Tee.
“The golf is great but we really work to stress the program’s nine core values,” said Stepp.
Values emphasized include courtesy, respect, honesty, integrity, sportsmansip, confidence, perseverance, responsibility and judgement - all skills beneficial on the golf course and, more importantly, away from the greens and fairways in the game of life.
As for the golf side, the youth, with the help of adult volunteers, learned chipping, putting, driving skills and even played the occasional game of “golf baseball.”
Stepp said her goal was to have 35-40 participants in the camp, and says she was excited to see the final number exceed her expectations. Youth from all over attended the event, including kids from Midlothian, Mineral Wells, Stephenville, Cleburne and of course Glen Rose among others.
“We’re already trying to schedule a second camp in the fall when it’s not 100 degrees every day,” Step said. “We just have to make sure we can work around school.”
The national First Tee program, which was established with the help of founding partners that are prominent in the world of golf such as the PGA, the PGA Tour, the LPGA, the USGA and The Masters, served 375 youth in 2004 before growing to nearly 5,000 youth in 2008.
According to the Fort Worth chapter’s Web site, www.thefirstteeofftworth.org, the mission of the program is “To impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.”