By Beth Brown, PhD
When you consider the many organized activities in which young people can participate, what are the first sports that spring to mind?
Soccer? Baseball? Swim team?
I'm here to tell you that you should add golf to that list -- and in particular, a great program of which I've been proud to be part for the past ten years called The First Tee.
Why golf? Here are my Top Ten reasons why kids should play golf.
Golf is a great way to:
10. Enjoy the outdoors: Golf gives young people an opportunity to spend a few hours in fresh air, experiencing all types of flora and fauna.
9. Develop lifelong friendships: You never know who you will meet on a golf course, and interaction with others allow young people to develop social skills.
8. Practice personal responsibility: Sometimes the ball doesn't always bounce your way, but regardless of the outcome, there is no blaming your teammates for what happens.
7. Have a safe place to play: The golf course is a safe place and facilitates mentoring relationships in a safe environment.
6. Learn to manage your emotions: Golf closely parallels real life as one experiences the highs and lows of the game. The range of experience, from birdies to triple bogeys, rewards a young person's ability to keep each shot in perspective, manage one's emotions, maintain a positive outlook and focus on the shot at hand.
5. Appreciate diversity: Golf is a game that can be played for a lifetime by anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, size or skill level.
4. Prepare for business: Golf is a sport that helps prepare kids and teens for careers in business and other professional arenas.
3. Learn etiquette: Young people should play golf because it is based on characteristics that are too often missing in today's win-at-all-costs society. Golf places an emphasis on etiquette. In golf there is no judge or referee; instead, players govern themselves and fellow competitors.
2. Spend time with family: Golf is a game that encourages family participation.
1. Develop healthy habits for life: With the youth obesity epidemic in our country, golf is a sport that helps young people get off the couch. When you play golf, walking the golf course and carrying your bag, a 150-pound person burns 350 calories and walks more than 10,000 steps.
There's no question that golf is a great game, and there is no better way to learn about the game, as well as many important life lessons, than through The First Tee.
Since its founding in 1997, The First Tee (a partnership of the LGPA, Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and USGA, and Founding Corporate Partner, Shell Oil) has introduced the game of golf and its inherent values to over 7.6 million young people through our chapters, in elementary schools and at other youth development organizations.
Through our junior golf programs, the First Tee has helped shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance, and has had a positive impact on participants, their families and their communities.
But don't just take my word for it. Through our The Faces of The First Tee initiative on Facebook page , participants, coaches, mentors and sponsors have been uploading photos of themselves along with a short sentence or two about how The First Tee inspires them.
Here are a just a few of the many submissions:
Tarah, a participant from The First Tee of Sacramento, California, says The First Tee "Inspires me to help others."
Vitthal Parker, a participant from The First Tee of Atlanta, says The First Tee inspires him to "Persevere Through it All."
I hope that reading some of these stories gives you some sense of what a great organization The First Tee is and the positive impact that the organization has on the lives of young people.
Beth Brown is an LPGA Member and Managing Director, Curriculum and Research, for The First Tee. For more about The First Tee, as well as find a chapter in your area, click here